‘The Outpost’ Movie Review: A Tribute To the Real Soldiers

A movie cannot really capture the entirety of what soldiers go through in war. However, what a good war movie can show in two hours is enough to make audiences who may never find themselves in life or death situations a bit of what soldiers sacrifice for them. It could also make veterans watching feel heard, understood and thanked. The Outpost is such a movie. 

The true story of ‘The Outpost’

Based on Jake Tapper’s book, The Outpost begins by telling us that PRT Kamdesh in the Kush Mountains of Afghanistan was dubbed Camp Custer. The outpost unfortunately lived up to its name when Taliban attacked it in 2009. 

The Outpost: Scott Eastwood
Scott Eastwood | Screen Media

RELATED: ‘Mr. Jones’ Movie Review: This Is No Counting Crows Song

The Outpost introduces the outpost at the bottom of vast mountains. It’s not long before they take fire from above. It’s a somewhat regular occurrence. Director Rod Lurie identifies the areas of the outpost with on screen text as he introduces the unit of individual soldiers. 

Some of soldiers we’re going to follow throughout the film include Staff Sgt. Romesha (Scott Eastwood), Staff Sgt. Carter (Caleb Landry Jones), Sgt. Martin (Cory Hardrict), Sgt. Hardt (Jack DeVos), Commander Zahid (Ahmad Sakhi), Stephen Mace (Chris Born), Cpt. Yilescas (Milo Gibson) and Fist. Lt. Keating (Orlando Bloom).

A day in the life on ‘The Outpost’

Day to day, this outpost is supposed to be blocking the flow of weapons to Taliban insurgents. Frequently, enemy fire interrupts basic activities. They take out the enemy and go back to work. 

The Outpost: Orlando Bloom
Orlando Bloom | Screen Media

RELATED: ‘Wasp Network’ Movie Review: Ana de Armas and Penelope Cruz Show the Cost of Revolution

The guys make some off color jokes to get through their tour. In civilian society, we might reprimand them but on the front lines, you can forgive them. Nothing they say invalidates their actions and they do call each other out when it gets personal. 

Depicting the final battle  

On Oct. 3, 2009 Taliban forces did descend from the mountains to attack the outpost. The amount of Taliban on the hill is like an army of Gremlins or monsters from Starship Troopers, and it’s probably real extras, not CGI doubles. That’s something you don’t see much in movies anymore, so the sheer number of enemies feels overpowering.

The soldiers have to hold off the Taliban who all have higher ground. Lurie captures dynamic shots of soldiers running through the outpost with live explosions behind and beside them. He never resorts to shakycam. It’s harrowing enough to just see the battle. 

The Outpost: Caleb Landry Jones
Caleb Landry Jones | Screen Media

RELATED: ‘Da 5 Bloods’ Movie Review: Spike Lee’s Treasure of the Apocalypse Now

The layout of the outpost and the introduction to the many soldiers stationed there pays off when you’re following them in battle.The Outpost captures how everyone is screaming over each other, rightfully, but it’s not a cacophony Everyone is saying something they mean and the ones with authority or good ideas get through. Medical situations add suspense, as it’s a normal part of battle. You have to attend to the wounded before fighting has stopped, and with limited access to medical supplies.  

An epilogue addresses soldier coming home with trauma. That’s a worthwhile side most war movies don’t show unless it’s all about PTSD. The Outpost is a harrowing depiction of battle in the most recent war and it honors the brave soldiers who lived it, or died for it. The Outpost opens in select theaters and on VOD July 3.