Restrepo

"Extraordinary"

Restrepo Review


Perhaps no movie has ever put us into the place of a soldier quite as effectively as this documentary about Americans in Afghanistan. It's raw and harrowing, and also surprisingly funny. And it makes Hollywood war movies look ridiculous.

Filmmakers Hetherington and Junger embedded themselves with US troops in the perilous Korengal Valley over a 15-month deployment. Much of the intimate footage is shot from cameras mounted on the soldiers' helmets, taking us right into the heat of the battle. We not only experience the terror of the unknown and unexpected, but also the down time with scenes of relaxation, camaraderie and hijinks. All of this centres around Outpost Restrepo, named after a young colleague killed in the early days of their mission.

The filmmakers truly get under the skin of these young men as they have experiences that are impossible to imagine. We can see similarities with war movies in the surprise ambushes, invisible sniper attacks and a harrowing operation that goes nightmarishly wrong. But everything here has the jagged energy of real life peril. When they arrive, we can see that these boys think they will be able to make a real difference, tightening security so they aren't constantly shot at and negotiating with the local village leaders. But of course actual events aren't so controllable.

Much of the film consists of shaky helmet-cams, messy footage that captures both the lively banter and overpowering emotions. This is offset by the striking footage shot by the filmmakers on site, as well as reflective interviews with the soldiers after their tour of duty ends. Combining these elements with the constant pop-pop of unseen guns is thoroughly unnerving. And watching these guys on patrol looks more like an old WWII movie than something from the 21st century: establishing positions, inching forward, engaging in constant gun battles.

And then there are the scenes with them playing guitar, reading surfing magazines and sharing photos from home. These more playful moments capture the high these guys feel after surviving each attack. And yet in their interviews we can see that the darkness remains. This is a vitally important film that captures the real distress of battle in a way most of us have never seen before.



Restrepo

Facts and Figures

Genre: Documentaries

Run time: 93 mins

In Theaters: Friday 18th February 2011

Box Office USA: $1.3M

Box Office Worldwide: $1.4M

Distributed by: National Geographic

Production compaines: Outpost Productions

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 96%
Fresh: 106 Rotten: 4

IMDB: 7.6 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Tim Hetherington, Sebastian Junger

Producer: Tim Hetherington, Sebastian Junger

Starring: Juan 'Doc Restrepo as Himself, Dan Kearney as Himself, LaMonta Caldwell as Himself, Aron Hijar as Himself

Also starring:

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