War has a way of defining who we are in a matter of moments. The Outpost was supposed to debut at the South by Southwest Film Festival but due to the the Covid-19 pandemic, the film has since been released on demand. The trailer showcases numerous scenes which lay out the situation. A force of Taliban insurgents are weighing siege on the Combat Outpost Keating, a military installation located just fourteen miles from the Pakistan border. Nearly four-hundred insurgents against fifty-three U.S. Soldiers. The battle scenes are well-shot and while the acting is good, the movie is largely an overwhelming experience that left me with a feeling of exhaustion once the film concluded.
The Outpost is situated between three tall mountains and is located at the very bottom. The threat of being attacked by insurgents is very high and there’s a constant consensus of a said attack at any moment. The soldiers that are stationed there are tasked with determining who is a friend and who is the enemy, particularly those located in the town of Kamdesh which is in the Eastern Province of Afghanistan. The soldiers work with the elders of the community to seek peace and to locate Taliban insurgents. There are scenes that show these meetings, some of which were quite interesting to watch.
The terrain in the area is not so forgiving. The roads are narrow and essentially unsafe and the ground overlooking the outpost is the perfect place to setup an ambush. Most of the soldiers in the film don’t appear to be too concerned with the threat that is looming above, and at times minor attacks do occur. At the base, the soldiers are equipped with a mortar deployment and several Humvees armed with 50 caliber machine guns. While watching the film, I was constantly noticing numerous areas of attack which could put the Americans in grave risk.
The actors in the movie do good work but overall, the film lacks in character development of these soldiers which left me frustrated because once the battle began, it was difficult for me to determine who was who and where exactly they were. I will mention Staff Sergeant Clint Romesha (Scott Eastwood) who arrives at the base early in the movie and notices all the vantage points that endanger them. Another one to recall is Specialist Ty Michael Carter (Caleb Landry Jones) who is exceptional in his performance especially towards the end of the film. These are basically the only two standout characters in the film that I can recall. Sure, the movie has a good cast, but everyone in this movie is largely forgettable. I was a bit surprised that the script didn’t open any doors for us to remember these characters in ways that would keep the audience talking about.
When the Battle of Kamdesh does occur, it lasts for roughly forty-five minutes and during that entire time I yawned at least six times. It’s not that I was tired, I had plenty of sleep the night before, but while the action looks good on the screen, it didn’t involve me. Seven Americans died during the course of this battle and the film does show us every one of them but it didn’t have a profound impact on me. I felt that I was watching an action movie and not a war film. The technical skill is great but I have to put blame on the script which didn’t offer much to get interested in. Director Rod Lurie has made some really entertaining films in the past with the likes of Nothing but the Truth and the remake of Straw Dogs being some examples, but The Outpost feels like an empty action movie that is somewhat disguised as a war film.
Score 2 out of 5
The Outpost boasts some great action but that’s about it, in truth I was bored because nothing interested me. The script isn’t involving enough and even the excessive use of foul language did deter me. Usually I don’t mind, but this time around it felt overused and rather unnecessary at times. This is a movie that doesn’t fit the niche of other war films; something we remember rather well and are moved when it’s all over. To make matters even worse, the film concludes will archival footage of the soldiers who survived in interviews and during those several minutes, that was more interesting to watch than the entire two-hour runtime of The Outpost. If you just want to watch a movie with noise, gunfire and endless explosions then this will deliver, but if you’re looking for an experience that will move you, well all I can say is that I wasn’t satisfied. The action went on for so long and with the lack of character development and some questions that raised my attention, I walked away feeling exhausted rather than emotionally impacted.