Your typical war drama in Afghanistan can be as diverse as Kevin Reynolds’ The Beast (1988), told from the point of view of Russian soldiers to the intense documentary Restrepo (2010), which told the story of American soldiers in the war torn Korengal Valley.
Now comes a completely new take on this eternal conflict. A War (Krigen) follows a squad of Danish soldiers on tour in Afghanistan. They have strict rules of engagement that prohibit collateral damage. These soldiers are equipped just like American soldiers – cameras in their helmets, heavily armed. If there’s a difference it is that the Danish troops sport some amazing beards that define them.
The first half of the film swings between the routine missions of the soldiers and the wife and kids of the commander back home. The kids have a penchant for violence in contrast to their father who is shown to be objective while on maneuvers.
The squad comes under attack in a village, and a troop is badly wounded. The commander breaks protocol to get a helicopter to evacuate the wounded man. All of a sudden the film switches at the mid-point to the commander being brought up on charges related to the helicopter rescue. An extreme court battle ensues where he has to fight against the odds to defend his leadership.
A War writer/director Tobias Lindholm, who previously helmed A Hijacking and wrote The Hunt, delivers the narrative in a calm manner that emphasizes the human factor in the performance of duty. A War opens this weekend at the downtown Sundance Cinemas Houston.
— Michael Bergeron