The Battle of Kamdesh was a bloody 2009 confrontation that saw 400 Taliban fighters attack Combat Outpost Keating in Afghanistan, a station manned by 53 American soldiers and just days before it was to be shut down. “The Outpost,” a new film starring Scott Eastwood and Orlando Bloom and new to VOD, recreates the attack in gut-wrenching detail.
Based on the bestselling “The Outpost: An Untold Story of American Valor” by CNN’s chief Washington correspondent Jake Tapper, the movie focusses on Bravo Troop 3-61 CAV, soldiers working from a base camp situated at the bottom of three mountains. Nestled in a deep valley, the camp’s location is difficult to defend, allowing the Taliban to position themselves as to pick off the soldiers below.
The film’s first hour hints at what is to come. Like many war movies before it, “The Outpost” uses this time to get to know the men, Staff Sergeant Clint Romesha (Eastwood, ironically playing a character named Clint), Captain Ben Keating (Orlando), Specialist Ty Carter (Caleb Landry Jones), CPT Robert Yllescas, (Milo Gibson), and Daniel Rodriguez, a veteran of the battle who plays himself in the film. Between bouts of enemy fire we learn of their hopes, ambitions and thoughts of home. Its brotherhood building that, in terms of the drama, really pays off in the last hour when we see how the bond between the soldiers comes into play during battle.
Director Rod Lurie, a West Point alum, class of 1984, with four years of military service, has made a you-are-there film. He immerses the viewer in the details, the lives, sacrifices and, ultimately the skill under pressure of these men as bullets and bombs fly. The battle scene is ferocious, tour de force filmmaking, creating an atmosphere of bombast while never losing the connection between the men that will make the difference between life and death. But it is still a study in the importance of working as a unit as Lurie emphasizes the camaraderie as much as the action during the twelve-hour, close contact gun fight.
The performances are uniformly effective but it is Jones who stands apart as Specialist Ty Carter, a Medal of Honor winner, who fights through his fear to do his job.
“The Outpost” has all the earmarks of a war film, the action, the brotherhood, but it isn’t a recruitment film. It is respectful of the soldiers, their duty and courage but critical of a government who knew Combat Outpost Keating was a sitting duck and did nothing to remedy the situation. As a stark comment on the cost of war it is a powerful and award worthy effort.