Harrowing War Drama The Outpost Now Streaming on Netflix
Written By Matthew Sadowski
The Outpost is a war film that features nothing more heroic than what was necessary to the protagonists at the time: another soldier is wounded and exposed, so you have to go and get him. Enemies have overrun the camp, so we take it back. It’s just what you do. Set during the reignition of the War on Terror in 2009, The Outpost gives a powerful dramatization of modern combat without resorting to nostalgic clichés about the heroism of its protagonists.
Staff Sergeant Romesha (Scott Eastwood) and Specialist Carter (Caleb Landry Jones) arrive with a small batch of new troops at Combat Outpost Keating, an extremely isolated base deep in the mountains of Taliban-held Afghanistan. So deep, in fact, that the base sits at the bottom of a valley with mountains surrounding it on all sides, a tactical disadvantage that is never lost on the grunts. The outpost commander, the affable yet firm Captain Keating (Orlando Bloom), does his best to keep morale high while carrying out unrealistic orders from his superiors and fending off seemingly random surprise attacks from insurgents hidden in the mountains.
When combat occurs, it is ugly and unglamorous. The Outpost, much like Saving Private Ryan, frequently puts the camera right in the face of its characters, making frenzied eyes and grimaces of anguish an integral part of the mise en scène. Unlike Private Ryan, however, the camera keeps the shaking to a minimum, using eerily smooth Steadicam shots despite the carnage. The camera glides to one soldier to see how he is reacting, and then glides to another while the first one continues fighting in the background.
The fighting is chaotic, everywhere, and can seem almost pointless; we rarely even see what anyone is firing at. The Outpost is a straightforward yet remarkable film about the fury and confusion of combat, and the meaninglessness of the “big picture” to those stuck in the trenches. Characters do not even grow beyond learning to trust one another a bit more, and the only lesson learned is by the high command, whose real-world conclusions are presented in the form of an epilogue. Surviving war, The Outpost suggests, is character development enough.
Directed by: Rod Lurie
Starring: Scott Eastwood, Caleb Landry Jones, Orlando Bloom
Streaming on: Netflix
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