The Outpost Is An Intense Film

The Outpost. Courtesy of Screen Media.

The Outpost is a very intense film and certainly would have benefited from a traditional theatrical release rather than home viewing.

The military thriller from director Rod Lurie is based on Jake Tapper’s book of the same name.  The film focuses in on a small group of American soldiers based at the Combat Outpost Keating.  The remote outpost happens to be located at the bottom of an Afghanistan valley surrounded by mountains.  It’s here where the troops find themselves under attack by Taliban forces.  One can certainly place the blame on the Army for deciding to pick the worst possible location to place a base.  Seriously.

Some two hours after the film begins, we will have also lived through one of the bloodiest battles of 2009.  The Battle of Kamdesh would lead to Bravo Troop 3-61 CAV becoming one of the most decorated units among those fighting in Afghanistan.  The film captures this battle with every bit the intensity that it rightfully deserves.  Now, I’m not saying that it’s up there with the likes of Saving Private Ryan or even Apocalypse Now.  I’m going to need to sit a bit longer before deciding on that.  What I can tell you is that this film is every bit intense as the opening of Saving Private Ryan.

The battle lasted around twelve hours.  While 27 Purple Hearts would go onto be awarded, eight service members were killed in action.  How many of these lives could have been saved if the base were elsewhere?

One thing that sets this film apart from those two films is certainly the budget.  This isn’t a film with studio backing so you’re obviously trying to finish it as soon as possible.  In this way, there’s more of a feel similar to The Hurt Locker as far as independent vs. big budget is concerned.

Jake Tapper’s book demands a documentary-style movie.  It would provide more answers as to WHY our troops are placed in a bad spot.  The film plays true to the spirit.  We’re following these soldiers around not knowing who is going to live or die.  Paul Tamasy and Eric Johnson’s script stays true to the book but narrows things down.

From a design standpoint, the filmmakers do a superb job at recreating the Afghan valley in Bulgaria.  Production designer Erik Carlson absolutely deserves award nominations his work.  Cinematographer Lorenzo Senatore also brings a valuable service in lighting and capturing the intensity of the action.  The camera gets so close to the actors to the point in which you’re claustrophobic.  Another thing to vote is actual veterans portray themselves on screen.

I know this film is trying to be authentic as possible but were the racial slurs really necessary?  It’s 2020!  I know the film was set over a decade ago but even that’s no excuse to justify the use of racial slurs.  It adds a layer of toxic masculinity that film probably doesn’t need.  On top of that, nobody should be using those slurs–not even in battle.  I don’t want to get ahead of myself but this certainly makes you wonder what they do teach our armed forces during training.  Okay, I digress.

The film’s length is immediately one of the downsides of watching at home.  At just over two hours and with all the distractions that home viewing has to offer, it quickly becomes clear that this film was made for theaters.  Even if this were a traditional year, it would have had to fight for screens.  All indie films do.  It will certainly play better in a traditional theater albeit with social distancing.  From a technical standpoint, the film doesn’t really lose all that much.  Of course, this depends on the size of your TV.

The Outpost honors those killed in action by telling their story even if watching at home isn’t equal to the big screen experience that it deserves.

DIRECTOR:  Rod Lurie
SCREENWRITERS:  Paul Tamasy and Eric Johnson
CAST:  Scott Eastwood, Caleb Landry Jones, and Orlando Bloom, Jack Kesy, Cory Hardrict, Milo Gibson, Jacon Scipio, Taylor John Smith, James Jagger, Jonathan Yunger

Screen Media will release The Outpost in theaters and VOD on July 3, 2020. Grade: 3.5/5

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.