Another week, another American made film about war. The Outpost, which was directed by Rod Lurie, is based on real events that occurred during the US army’s battles in Afghanistan against the Taliban. This particular battle took place at a camp base located bottom of a valley which then made it highly dangerous and vulnerable for an attack from above. A terrible militaristic move but extremely tense and terrifying setting for a cinematic experience, it’s perfect for a low-budget film that always looks to use its only setting to maximum effect. The first half flexes its weakest muscles because the characters don’t work pretty much at all but once the action starts in the second half, it starts to work together as one unit.
Sticking around a whole first half for a two hour movie just to see where it all ends up might be a tough ask but considering that it’s a war movie and you’re there to see exactly that, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed in that sense. The nearly seamless execution of the terror that is a bloody and bullet-filled battleground requires a lot of synchronised action as well as technical artistry so it’s nice to see that you get that for much of it. Some wonky VFX can be forgiven for a certain budget but the movie really shines on the SFX side. Dusty smoke, haze and pyro work are neatly timed and they work for the story since it starts to make the already small camp seem smaller and smaller as the Taliban gets closer to the gates.
One of the lesser things about both the actual battle scenes and the story building phase in the beginning is the awfully weird lighting, both indoors and outdoors at nighttime. Actors’ eyes are constantly hard to distinguish because of the uneven shadows and sometimes they are facing the light source in static shots, in those it isn’t down to practicality so it just seems to be due to lack of shooting time. In couple points it’s off because Lurie and cinematographer Lorenzo Senatore are hellbent to use long tracking shots one after another which is sure impressive when it comes to camera moves but unnecessary when it comes to overall look. Actors also get poor treatment from messy writing in the beginning, you’re introduced to so many that they all start to blend in and it’s hard to remember them. The one exception is Caleb Landry Jones (SPC Carter) who is the much needed emotional anchor from his first scene to his last, heartbreaking scene.
Smileys: SFX, Caleb Landry Jones
The battle made me wish though that I had seen it in theaters.