‘The Outpost’ Powerfully Confronts the Contradictions of the War in Afghanistan

Scott Eastwood stars as Medal of Honor recipient Clint Romesha in "The Outpost." (Screen Media Films)

The Afghanistan War’s Battle of Kamdesh in 2009 is a shining moment of military heroism in the face of failed strategy, a story of men who fought valiantly to win a battle that they should’ve never been asked to fight.

“The Outpost” is the war picture these men deserve, a thrilling movie that drives home the impossibility of their situation and the resourcefulness they showed to survive an attack that realistically could have cost every man his life.

“The Outpost” will be available for rental via cable providers and digital stores like iTunes, Apple TV, Amazon Video, Vudu, GooglePlay, FandangoNOW, Redbox Digital, Sony Playstation and Microsoft Xbox. The distributors are also planning to play the film in a handful of theaters around the country this weekend, mostly in smaller markets. Here’s a full list of theaters scheduled to play the movie.

Movies about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been thin on the ground as Hollywood continues to revisit Vietnam and the World Wars for inspiration. “The Outpost” was made independently on a razor-thin budget but manages to deliver the goods without the support of a Hollywood studio budget.

Based on “The Outpost: An Untold Story of American Valor,” a 2013 best-selling book by CNN’s Jake Tapper, the movie focuses on Staff Sgts. Clint Romesha and Ty Carter. Both men were awarded the Medal of Honor for their actions during the October battle but the movie recognizes the bravery of the entire unit as they defended the base.

Scott Eastwood stars as Romesha and “The Outpost” is the movie where the actor fully embraces his heritage as Clint’s son. Young Clint probably would’ve never agreed to grow the mustache that Scott wears, but otherwise we get a performance that’s pure, undiluted Eastwood.

Caleb Landry Jones stars as Medal of Honor recipient Ty Carter in "The Outpost." (Screen Media Films)

Caleb Landry Jones gives what should be a career-defining performance as Carter. Jones was a key part of the award-winning acting ensembles in movies like “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” and “Get Out,” but his turn as the troubled Marine-turned-soldier is the emotional heart of “The Outpost.”

The cast also features Orlando Bloom (“Lord of the Rings”), Milo Gibson (son of Mel Gibson) and Kwame Patterson (“The Wire”) as commanders of the outpost. The soldiers include Jack Kesy (“Claws”), Bobby Lockwood, Jacob Scipio (“Bad Boys for Life”), Scott Alda Coffey (grandson of Alan Alda), James Jagger (son of Mick Jagger), Alexander Arnold (“Skins”) and Taylor John Smith (“Sharp Objects”).

Much like “Black Hawk Down” launched a generation of talented young actors (including Orlando Bloom) into long and successful careers, “The Outpost” introduces a group of young men who we’re likely to see in bigger roles over the next decade or two.

The film also features Spc. Daniel Rodriguez, who plays himself and joins an elite club with World War II hero and Army veteran Audie Murphy and Marine Corps veteran Rudy Reyes. Audie also played himself in “To Hell and Back” (1955) and Rudy played himself in the HBO series “Generation Kill” (2008).

Director Rod Lurie talks with actor Caleb Landry Jones on the set of "The Outpost." (Screen Media Films)

Director Rod Lurie graduated from West Point and served in the Army’s Air Defense Artillery before embarking on a controversial career as a loudmouth critic and entertainment reporter. He backed up those opinions with action when he became a writer/director and kicked off his career with the acclaimed political thriller “The Contender” with Joan Allen and Jeff Bridges and “The Last Castle” with Robert Redford and James Gandolfini.

The movie doesn’t spend a lot of time detailing the misguided policy decisions that ask these men to hold an indefensible position, but it never stints on letting the audience know that everyone realizes they’ve been asked to do the impossible. The heroism on display here is the product of bad management decisions from above, made by officers who never took the opportunity to see the situation from the perspective of men on the ground.

RelatedMedal of Honor Recipient Clinton Romesha Tells His Unit's Story in 'Red Platoon'

Both Tapper’s book and Clinton Romesha’s book “Red Platoon” are essential reading for students of our modern wars. Tapper, writing as a journalist, gives more voice to the outrage he feels over the fact that this battle was allowed to happen even as he celebrates these soldiers’ bravery. Romesha writes from the perspective of a man doing his job as assigned. His portraits of his fellow soldiers reveal a man with an eye for detail who could offer a lot more commentary on brass decisions if he chose to do so.

“The Outpost” has the opportunity to bring the story to a much larger audience. I’ll always regret not seeing it for the first time on a big screen with a crowd. The story deserves a theatrical presentation. But that’s not where we are right now. Don’t let circumstances cause you to miss out on one of the finest war movies of the century so far.

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