Director Rod Lurie’s excellent, riveting film, “The Outpost,” a military thriller, is based on the bestselling book by Jake Tapper. In 2009, a relatively small group of US soldiers at American COP, (Camp Outpost Keating) in Kamdesh, Afghanistan, just 14 miles west of the Pakistan border, were assaulted by over 300 Taliban fighters, known as the Battle of Kamdesh, resulting in eight Americans killed, 22 wounded, and a relinquishment of the base.
Similar in tone and intensity to “Black Hawk Down” while capturing long realistic shots as in Sam Mendes’s “1917” –”The Outpost” is a must-see military battle film garnering an immersion into the lives of heroes that sacrificed their lives for their fellow Americans. Unfortunately, most don’t even realize that the war in Afghanistan is still going on today and that soldiers are still in dangerous areas.
Lurie, a West Point graduate, Army veteran, and filmmaker whom I interviewed a few weeks ago spoke about these men’s brotherhood and the fact that everyone who died in this battle was trying to save someone else. Casting an outstanding ensemble to play the heroic soldiers who fought bravely and the eight who gave their lives against incredible odds provides the film with realism. Casting actual Kamdesh battle veterans, as Daniel Rodriguez, a specialist soldier who plays himself in the movie—he was in the mortar pit at the time of the battle— everything that he did on that day is re-created, giving the film ‘actualism.’
Staff Sergeant Clint Romesha, (Scott Eastwood), Specialist Ty Michael Carter, (Caleb Landry Jones), Lieutenant Benjamin D. Keating, (Orlando Bloom), for whom the base is named, and Captain Robert Yllescas (Milo Gibson), a former University of Nebraska football fan and graduate, all deliver standout performances in this action-packed, notably edited war film.
Bravo Troop 3-61 CAV, (3rd Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment of the 4th Infantry Division) fought in a 12-hour close-contact battle that nearly became hand-to-hand combat. As a result, they became the most decorated unit of the 19-year conflict: 27 Purple Hearts, 37 Army Commendation Medals with “V” device for valor, 3 Bronze Star Medals, 18 other Bronze Star Medals with “V” device for valor, nine soldiers awarded the Silver Star for valor. Staff Sgt. Justin Gallegos’ Silver Star was later upgraded to a Distinguished Service Cross. 1st Lt. Andrew Bundermann’s Silver Star was upgraded to a Distinguished Service Cross as well. Ty Carter and Clint Romesha were awarded the Medal of Honor for two living service members — the first time that had happened in fifty years.
By all accounts, just looking at the geographic location of COP Keating, it’s the worst possible spot, at the center of a deep valley. From the get-go, the enemy Taliban forces had a dominant advantage and hid in the ridges that overlooked it. With a birds-eye view, they could shoot directly down into the outpost. The purpose of cutting off supplies to the border and forming community relations was a moot point in such a vulnerable situation.
We are given the background, details, and purpose of the mission in the first half of the film by Lurie and screenwriters Paul Tamasy and Eric Johnson. The second half lays out the 12-hour attack amid conversations, orders, and gunfire.
The Bottomline? I’m all in 4 stars out of 4. The film is a tribute to the soldiers and their families. I can’t urge you enough to see this important, historical film, it will tug at your heartstrings, and you’ll feel proud to be an American.
Check out my interview with the director of “The Outpost” Rod Laurie on Sarah’s Backstage Pass.com. See you next week.