THE MISSION WAS SURVIVAL.
In 2006, the troops at an American military outpost near the border with Pakistan find themselves under attack by hundreds of Taliban fighters. The Battle of Kamdesh, which resulted in several U.S. casualties, was vividly captured in Jake Tapper’s book and this faithful screen adaptation, where mountainous Bulgarian locations stand in for Afghanistan. As a war movie, it follows a traditional formula (echoing Rio Bravo (1959)), but the bloody, terrifying climactic battle is thoroughly convincing and the filmmakers and very capable cast bring us close to the characters in episodic events leading up to it.
2020-U.S. 123 min. Color. Widescreen. Produced by Marc Frydman, Jeffrey Greenstein, Yariv Lerner, Paul Merryman, Paul Tamasy, Les Weldon, Jonathan Yunger. Directed by Rod Lurie. Screenplay: Paul Tamasy, Eric Johnson. Book: Jake Tapper. Cast: Scott Eastwood (Clint Romesha), Caleb Landry Jones (Ty Michael Carter), Orlando Bloom (Benjamin D. Keating), Jack Kesy, Cory Hardrict, Milo Gibson.
Trivia: Co-produced by Tapper. Three of the survivors make appearances in the film, including SPC Daniel Rodriguez as himself.
Last word: “[Jake Tapper] and I, we both became very, very close to the families of the dead – he through his research, and – you know, my son Hunter died while I was making this film, and the families really rallied around me. And they became very emotionally involved in the film even more so when that happened. In October of 2019, we finally showed this movie to the families of the fallen and some of the people who had survived. Jake Tapper was this absolute nervous wreck, and so was I. How are they going to react? […] It ended up that every single one of them were – they were just so grateful because, there’s that expression that you die twice – once when you leave this earth, and the other when the last person ever speaks your name. And the gift that we gave them and the gift that I gave my son, who this movie’s dedicated to, is that their names will be forever spoken.” (Lurie, NPR)