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Review: 'The Outpost'

Director Rod Lurie’s new movie The Outpost is about the historic Battle of Kamdesh that took place in Northern Afghanistan on October 3, 2009.

It’s based on the 2012 book The Outpost: An Untold Story of American Valor written by CNN Reporter/Anchor, Jake Tapper.

It is a gripping recreation of the events of that day when 53 Army soldiers defended their base from an onslaught of nearly 400 Afghani fighters.

When it was over 8 Americans were killed and 27 were wounded, but their courage and resilience resulted in the retreat of the Afghani attackers in the wake of 150 estimated enemy casualties.

The first half of The Outpost meticulously sets the stage for the battle sequence that takes place in the second half.

We get to meet the soldiers, we are shown the layout of their base and are made aware of their dire predicament.

Contrary to conventional military strategy, the base is located at the very bottom of a valley completely surrounded by steep mountain cliffs.

The men all know that an attack will render them all to be sitting ducks.

You sense the impending danger and possible doom from the very start.

It’s the ugly scenario of being surrounded and outnumbered with no means of escape that made movies like The Alamo (1960) or Zulu (1964) so terrifying.

In one of the lines of dialog, one of the soldiers says they are a “band of brothers.”

There is a bond of brotherhood that is the key to their survival.

But the reference calls to mind the HBO Series Band of Brothers about a legendary unit of soldiers in World War II.

It was both memorable and factual due to the reliance of the actual living soldiers who lived that chapter of history and could ensure the accuracy of its portrayal.

The same can be said of The Outpost, which relied on extensive interviews with the survivors as well as their presence on set as advisors and in one case, a soldier portraying himself.

There is a tangible sense of realism.

Lurie strives to make the experience immersive as well.

Rather than being an observer, he makes the viewer a virtual participant, with the use of long, hand-held takes that follow the action during the chaotic battle throughout the camp and inside the claustrophobic armored vehicles.

It is reminiscent of the opening scenes of Saving Private Ryan, with the exception that we have been introduced to these men.

We know them to some extent.

They are not just nameless bodies falling mercilessly under heavy rifle fire and artillery. We feel their pain and mourn their loss.

Though you sense that this might not have been a big-budget film, The Outpost is a movie that gets it right on every level.

It’s on a par with other modern war movies like The Hurt Locker, Zero Dark Thirty or American Sniper.

Perhaps the only disappointment is that few people will be able to see it in a movie theater on a big screen with a digital sound system.

It’s a movie begging to play big for maximum impact.

A home theater system might be the only reasonable substitute for now, but in fairness, it should be seen uninterrupted, with the lights down low and the volume cranked up high.

The movie co-stars Orlando Bloom and Scott Eastwood, both turning in strong performances.

Watching Scott is like watching his father Clint Eastwood in his prime as a young actor. The resemblance and vibe are uncanny.

The Outpost is being released in some theaters and on demand on July 3. The timing couldn’t be better this 4th of July weekend.

In the mix of current releases, I can’t think of a more patriotic movie about courage, valor and self-sacrifice in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds.

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