FILM REVIEW | The Outpost

The Outpost has arrived on Australian screens with next to no promotion.

The action-packed true story - set during the conflict in Afghanistan - may have quietly dropped into cinemas this month, but it'll leave a big impact on viewers.

Though they'll have to be patient as The Outpost doesn't really hit its stride until the second half.

Not unlike the (hugely underrated) Only the Brave before it, the new film - from director Rod Lurie - spends a great deal of time setting the scene and developing the status quo at the titular outpost in Kamdesh, Afghanistan. The site is a most illogically located military station - surrounded on all sides by monstrously tall and unforgiving mountains, with roads that are almost too small to traverse and villagers who have a grave distrust of the American soldiers.

From the opening moments, audiences are told that the men posted in Kamdesh almost expect not to make it out alive.

High intensity: Scott Eastwood stars as a real life American soldier in new Afghanistan war film The Outpost, rated MA15+, in cinemas now.

High intensity: Scott Eastwood stars as a real life American soldier in new Afghanistan war film The Outpost, rated MA15+, in cinemas now.

There's a lot of seemingly inane chatter and routine shown in the film's first half. One could imagine that such filmmaking would serve to establish character, but with every cast member decked out in the same military gear and sporting identical haircuts, there's little to distinguish one man from the next - a problem the film never overcomes. There are a couple of familiar faces in the cast - Orlando Bloom plays the compassionate and patient captain Ben Keating, while Scott Eastwood plays Sergeant Cliff Romesha.

Eastwood is far from the only second (or third) generation Hollywood actor in the film - Mel Gibson's son Milo, Mick Jagger and Jerry Hall's son James Jagger also appear, alongside Richard Attenborough's grandson Will and Alan Alda's grandson Scott Alda Coffey. But it's Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri star Caleb Landry Jones who runs away with the film, delivering a nuanced, stirring performance.

The camerawork during the big battle sequences is exceptionally good, really placing the viewer squarely in the middle of the action.

The film ends with footage of the real-life soldiers portrayed in The Outpost. By the time the credits are rolling, the film has turned any boredom or scepticism around and got its audience decidedly back on side.

Rating: 7.5/10

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