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SCREEN MEDIA

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Rod Lurie
Cast:
Scott Eastwood, Caleb Landry Jones, Orlando Bloom
Writing Credits:
Paul Tamasy, Eric Johnson

Synopsis:
A small team of U.S. soldiers battle against hundreds of Taliban fighters in Afghanistan.

MPAA:
Rated R.

DISC DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audio:
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English Dolby 2.0
Subtitles:
English
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
None

Runtime: 123 min.
Price: $29.98
Release Date: 8/18/2020

Bonus:
• Audio Commentary with Director Rod Lurie
• “Inside COP Keating” Featurette
• Deleted Scene Rehearsal
• Song Rehearsal
• Battle Scene Blocking
• Previews


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RELATED REVIEWS


The Outpost [Blu-Ray] (2020)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (August 16, 2020)

Despite the fact the conflict started nearly 20 years ago, we’ve seen relatively few cinematic depictions of the US battles in Afghanistan. 2020’s The Outpost brings an entry in that field.

In 2009, we meet the US soldiers of Combat Outpost Keating, a location stuck in a remote Afghanistan mountain valley. Though isolated, the location attempts to thwart Taliban transport and movement across the country.

Despite their best efforts to win over the locals, the US troops regularly find themselves subject to minor assaults from enemy combatants. The scale of these skirmishes escalates massively when the Outpost comes under assault from a 400-strong group of Taliban fighters. The undermanned and under-equipped Americans battle for their survival.

The movie offers an adaptation of a book written by US cable news anchor Jake Tapper, which seems like an unusual source. However, because I follow Tapper on Twitter, I know his interest in the military, so this feels like less of a surprise than if, say, Steve Doocy wrote such a book.

Given that Tapper’s career focuses heavily on politics, it can feel a bit surprising that Outpost avoids that side of the tale. COP Keating exists largely as a location without real combat purpose, one that the military decided to abandon right before the movie’s major battle occurred.

That seems like territory ripe for commentary, as so many die or get wounded for virtually nothing productive. However, Outpost doesn’t want to be Apocalypse Now, so Tapper’s affinity for soldiers overrides his political instincts.

I don’t know if I fully agree with this choice, though I understand it. Tapper wanted the focus to be on the “band of brothers” and their sacrifice, not the bigger picture of administrative mistakes. This may limit the breadth of what Outpost can do, but it exists for an obvious reason.

Outpost sticks nearly exclusively with the residents of COP Keating, as we almost never leave their sides for the entire story. It comes essentially with a two-act structure, as the film’s first half immerses us in the setting as we get to know the soldiers and then the second half devotes itself to the battle and its aftermath.

This split nature works pretty well, though with a large cast, we don’t get to know the characters quite as well as we might like. This occurs partly because the filmmakers seem loath to give any of them the short shrift.

Which I get, as Outpost clearly wants to honor the men at COP Keating. As such, it doesn’t want to leave out any of them. Of course, some get more time than others – especially SSG Clint Romesha (Scott Eastwood) and SPC Ty Carter (Caleb Landry Jones) – but the film still spreads its focus in a broad way.

Though this choice means we don’t bond with most of the roles as well as we should, we still spend enough time with them to differentiate the characters. When the bullets start to fly, we feel on fairly firm ground in terms of who’s who.

Outpost fares best in that second half, as it delivers a relentless look at combat. Because so much of the second hour revolves around the battle, we don’t get a respite, and that adds to the intensity and terror.

The actors do well in their parts, though I admit that Eastwood’s intense resemblance to his famous father will likely always distract me. The fact he plays a character named “Clint” seems ironic and amusing as well.

Jones offers the best work of the cast, and he also gets the most complex character. I wish Outpost gave him a little more room to work, but he still brings a solid performance that wrings depth out of a role without a ton of screentime.

I can’t claim Outpost shows insights or a side of war not previously depicted on screen, so don’t expect it to give us something brand-new. Nonetheless, it presents an impactful, emotional take on its topic, and that seems like enough.

Footnote: stick around through the end credits for footage of the actual soldiers behind the film.


The Disc Grades: Picture B/ Audio A-/ Bonus B-

The Outpost appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This became a mostly strong presentation.

Overall sharpness seemed positive. A few slightly soft shots materialized, but most of the flick came across with appropriate delineation.

No signs of moiré effects or jagged edges materialized, and edge haloes failed to appear. I also didn’t see any print flaws.

Like most films of this sort, Outpost opted for a fairly amber and teal feel, though it leaned more toward the sandy side of the street. The hues came across as intended and seemed positive.

Blacks looked dark and tight, but shadows could seem a bit murky at times, so nighttime shots looked somewhat opaque. Despite a few minor drawbacks, the image usually held up well.

As for the film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack, it added strong involvement to the experience. With the level of bombast expected from a movie with many scenes of combat, the soundfield used the various speakers well.

Obviously, battles proved the most involving, as they engulfed the viewer with the sounds of the setting. That side of things worked best, but other sequences also seemed quite good.

Even quieter sections placed the viewer in the action and consistently satisfied. Surround usage was pleasing throughout the film, as the back speakers bolstered the various settings well.

Audio quality was also good. Speech appeared natural, and the lines never demonstrated intelligibility problems.

Music was dynamic and lively, as the score showed excellent range and delineation. Effects were also bright and bold, with nice low-end to boot. Across the board, this was an excellent track that deserved a solid “A-”.

As we shift to extras, we start with an audio commentary from director Rod Lurie. He provides a running, screen-specific discussion of story/characters, facts and liberties, music and audio, sets and locations, stunts and action, effects, cast and performances, camerawork, and related domains.

Energetic and involved, Lurie provides a good look at his film. He touches on a slew of appropriate topics and turns this into an informative and absorbing chat.

Inside COP Keating runs 30 minutes, 28 seconds and offers notes from Lurie, author Jake Tapper, veterans Chris Cordova, Jack Kesy, Daniel Rodriguez, Ty M. Carter and Stoney Portis, co-producers Henry Hughes and Marc Frydman, tech advisors Ray Mendoza an Jariko Denman, co-screenwriters Paul Tamasy and Eric Johnson, producers Jonathan Yunger, Paul Merryman and Les Weldon, production designer P. Erik Carlson, director of photography Lorenzo Senatore, 2nd unit director/stunt coordinator Greg Powell, assistant stunt coordinator Adam Jones, makeup designer Yana Stoyanova, and actors Scott Eastwood, Caleb Landry Jones, Orlando Bloom, Cory Hardricht, Milo Gibson and Taylor John Smith.

“Inside” looks at the project’s roots and development, research and authenticity, impressions of the actual events, sets and locations, actor training and performances, photography, stunts and action, and makeup effects.

All that means “Inside” provides a fairly effective overview of the production. It benefits from the involvement of the actual soldiers depicted in the film, so it turns into a worthwhile program.

One Deleted Scene Rehearsal spans two minutes, 14 seconds. It shows a little character exposition, as it expands a sequence from the final film. It doesn’t add much.

We also get a Song Rehearsal for “Everybody Cries” (1:06). It shows the actors as they practice a tune heard in the movie. It also fails to bring much.

Battle Scene Blocking fills one minute, nine seconds with shots of the crew as the plan a sequence. It seems too short to give us a lot.

The disc opens with ads for Crown Vic and Blood and Money. No trailer for Outpost appears here.

While it doesn’t reinvent the genre, The Outpost nonetheless brings a bracing look at combat. The movie does enough right to become an involving and affecting tale. The Blu-ray offers generally strong picture with excellent audio and a mix of bonus materials. Outpost contributes to its field.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3 Stars Number of Votes: 1
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Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main