The Outpost Parent Guide
With too many characters, interpersonal conflicts, and historical combat, this movie dissolves into a confusing mess.
Parent Movie Review
A secluded combat outpost just 14 miles from the Afghanistan/Pakistan border has more problems than it has troops. The mortality rate for commanding officers is daunting, and the resulting changes in command styles and relationships with the local village elders have caused a great deal of tension. The outpost only has 53 soldiers, and supplies are limited. To make things worse, in time of crisis, air support could be two hours away. Despite reports indicating that the outpost is untenable, the US Army has determined that is must remain operational…but at what cost?
The Outpost is based on a non-fiction book of the same name by Jake Tapper, which details the Battle of Kamdesh, one of the bloodiest battles for US forces in the region. I can’t swear to the historical accuracy of the plot (although a quick scan of the Wikipedia page seems to indicate that it’s more or less accurate), but I can swear that the film simply isn’t that interesting.
That’s not to say that the personal plight of the soldiers isn’t worth attention, or that the battle wasn’t a significant part of the US occupation in that area – only that the film is juggling far too many balls at once. The historical story, dozens of named characters, interpersonal conflicts, and the combat itself are too much for the film to bear, and instead of providing a taut, tense narrative, it dissolves into a confused mess. The action isn’t terribly well done either, with most of it comprising of shots of heavily armed American soldiers firing at….nothing in particular.
Despite that, plenty of people are shot and blown up, and there is plenty of gore to be had. But bullets and mortars aren’t the artillery of choice here – in 123 minutes of runtime, there are about 401 “f” bombs. I say “about” because sometimes they were coming so thick and fast that I’m nearly certain I missed a few. I would love to say that I’m dedicated enough to have skipped back to check, but frankly, watching this movie once was more than enough.
There are ways to make war movies about untenable positions interesting: hopelessness and the pressure of orders from a distant and uninformed command are huge aspects of some of the best war movies. The Outpost just fails to capitalize on any broader theme, and the film winds up feeling stuck and restless. Things change, people argue, and people are killed – but there is no broader message. Without that kind of overarching strategy, The Outpost falls to pieces, much like the combat outpost it portrays.Directed by Rod Lurie. Starring Orlando Bloom, Scott Eastwood, and Caleb Landry Jones. Running time: 123 minutes. Theatrical release July 3, 2020. Updated August 26, 2020
Watch the trailer for The Outpost
Rating & Content Info
Why is The Outpost rated R? The Outpost is rated R by the MPAA for war violence and grisly images, pervasive language, and sexual references.
Violence: Dozens of individuals are shot or killed in explosions. There are graphic depictions of injuries and medical procedures.
Sexual Content: There are repeated uses of crude sexual language. There is a scene depicting male buttocks. There are scenes depicting individuals smelling ladies underwear. There is frequent homophobic language.
Profanity: There are 401 extreme profanities, 87 uses of scatological profanity, and frequent use of terms of deity and mild profanity.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Individuals are frequently shown smoking tobacco. There are references to substance abuse and hash.
Page last updated August 26, 2020
The Outpost Parents' Guide
Foreign military intervention as a policy has a human cost, as seen in the movie. Why did the United States decide to operate Combat Outpost Keating in the first place? Why were they involved in Afghanistan? Why were they involved in Iraq? What were the reasons given for each military action? How did they differ? How were they similar?
Military.com: The Battle for COP Keating
Wikipedia: Battle of Kamdesh
BBC.com: Why is there a war in Afghanistan?
CFR.org: The US War in Afghanistan
Encyclopedia Britannica: Iraq War
History.com: War in Iraq Begins
Loved this movie? Try these books…
Dexter Filkins’ The Forever War examines both the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq in their historical context. The Mirror Test: America at War in Iraq and Afghanistan was written by Kael Weston, a former State Department officer who interviewed civilians, soldiers, and others involved in both conflicts. For an exploration of the broader history of US conflicts in the area, try Andrew J Bacevich’s America’s War for the Greater Middle East: A Military History.
The most recent home video release of The Outpost movie is August 18, 2020. Here are some details…
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There is not a shortage of war movies set in the Middle East. Kathryn Bigelow has made two – The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty, which deal with PTSD in bomb-disposal units and the hunt for Osama bin-Laden respectively. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, starring Tina Fey, focuses on war reporting and the effects it has on the reporters. Red Snow is about a Gwinch’in member of the Canadian Armed Forces in Afghanistan who finds himself captive to the Taliban, struggling to protect his unit and keep silent. War in the Middle East has come to involve a great number of drone strikes. The morality of these is explored in Eye in the Sky, starring Helen Mirren and Alan Rickman. Green Zone follows a US soldier (played by Matt Damon) on the hunt for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq – only to find that the truth may be more complicated than he thought. Kiera Knightly stars in Official Secrets, which delves into the behaviour of the US government in securing international support for the invasion of Iraq.
The Outpost also borrows heavily from other war movies – specifically, Saving Private Ryanand Black Hawk Down.