Kandahar parents guide

Kandahar Parent Guide

Lethally dull and agonizingly slow, this lazy movie is the opposite of an action thriller.

Overall D

Theaters: A CIA operative's cover is blown, so he and his translator have to travel 400 miles through hostile territory to safety.

Release date May 26, 2023

Violence D
Sexual Content A
Profanity D
Substance Use B

Why is Kandahar rated R? The MPAA rated Kandahar R for violence and language

Run Time: 120 minutes

Parent Movie Review

Tom Harris (Gerard Butler) is one of the most dangerous and effective intelligence operatives in the Middle East. Trained by Britain’s MI6 and currently serving with the CIA, Harris has just completed a successful mission destroying an underground nuclear facility in Iran. Unfortunately for Harris, his cover was blown in a news leak and now he’s wanted by just about every counterintelligence group in the Middle East.

Harris’s only chance of getting home is a British aircraft that will divert to an old CIA airfield outside Kandahar – but he’s on the wrong side of Afghanistan. With the Taliban in charge, every minute Harris spends in the country is fraught with danger. Unpleasant as this may be for a hardened intelligence agent, it’s far worse for Mo (Navid Negahban), the translator who ended up along for the ride. If they’re lucky, the men will be able to evade spies, police, terrorists, and Daesh (a.k.a. ISIS/ISIL), cross Afghanistan, and catch a flight home. If they’re not so lucky, then death is the best they can hope for.

I’m not sure if anyone has bothered mentioning this to a Hollywood producer yet, but audiences tend to be more invested in films that bother to provide interesting characters. Here’s the sum total of my understanding of our protagonist: He’s getting divorced, he has a strained relationship with his daughter, and he looks just like Gerard Butler. Oh, and he kills people for the government. That about covers it. So no matter what kind of peril the film puts him in, you never get the sense that this matters. He doesn’t feel like a real person, he has no substantive emotional qualities, and never expresses any feelings he might be nursing below the surface. This is probably the laziest performance I’ve seen from Butler, which is a remarkable achievement for a man who’s acting range of late has consisted of switching from his native Scottish accent to an American one. He’s in the Scottish one for this film, if that affects your viewing decision at all.

Kandahar clearly wasn’t intended for a family audience as, apart from the profanity and violence, the plot revolves around a reasonably clear understanding of geography and geopolitical events. Oh, and it’s lethally dull. For viewers of any age, the soporific saturation of this film hits about thirty minutes in – the pacing is absolutely terrible. After half an hour, the script is still setting up the background events, which leaves the audience feeling like they’re waiting for a train for rather a long while. Then, when the actual plot arrives, they get hammered with non-stop disappointment and bland action until the credits mercifully start scrolling down the screen, a much needed coup-de-grace on a film which has aimed for and achieved almost complete mediocrity. I can’t even be all that angry with it, since my overriding feeling is boredom that feels like my brain has fallen asleep. I’m just now starting to get that icky pins-and-needles feeling, and I have to say, I don’t recommend that sensation inside your brain.

Directed by Ric Roman Waugh. Starring Gerard Butler, Ali Fazal, Bahador Foladi. Running time: 120 minutes. Theatrical release May 26, 2023. Updated

Watch the trailer for Kandahar

Rating & Content Info

Why is Kandahar rated R? Kandahar is rated R by the MPAA for violence and language

Violence: People are shot and killed in explosions frequently. Individuals are tortured and threatened with torture. Civilians are beaten with sticks, and bodies are seen hanging in public as a warning.
Sexual Content: None.
Profanity: There are 19 sexual expletives, nine scatological curses, and infrequent use of mild curses and terms of deity in the script.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Adult characters are briefly seen drinking alcohol and vaping.

Page last updated

Home Video

Related home video titles:

Gerard Butler recently starred in Plane, Copshop, and Greenland. More interesting films set in Afghanistan include Hyena Road, The Kite Runner, The Breadwinner, Flee, and Red Snow.