Life at Camp Keating

First came the British. Then the Russians. Now the Americans. The Outpost doesn’t ignore context for why the Afghan enemies assault an isolated US base, or why peace talks so readily collapse. For Afghanistan elders, it’s a perpetual cycle. Promises broken, violence, death.

It’s important historical framework; The Outpost isn’t driving a story on blind patriotism alone. These men defending a base, illogically set in a canyon, surrounded by hills, deliver truthful emotion. They both arrive and leave damaged people. One saw discharge from the Marines for fighting, bounced between menial jobs, and then signed back up. Recruitment favors certain personalities, and this alpha male mixture simmers under these grueling conditions.

The Outpost isn’t driving a story on blind patriotism alone

The Outpost is a two-part movie. While not in quality, a comparison to Full Metal Jacket seems reasonable. The first half, occasional attack aside, deals in character development. Soldiers snap at one another. They joke, they bond. Death comes more by accident than combat. Then Taliban forces make their assault, a force hundreds deep, and this becomes a different movie.

Few war movies consider why people apply to do this. At first, The Outpost shows kids – mere 20-somethings – from society’s fringes, huddled together in dismal circumstances, under authorities who recklessly sent them into a handicapped battle. Once into an extended action phase, personal barriers fall. Incompatible personalities between soldiers shut down. Under RPG and mortar fire, choked by dust, camaraderie shows.

Modestly budgeted, The Outpost doesn’t look distinct – at first. Gun battles shift camerawork into kinetic and active perspectives, soldiers charging toward the lens, a consistent, claustrophobic sensibility. There’s authenticity at play, excelling at eye level tensions on the run, or tightly cramming troops – and viewers – into vehicles as shots smack against bullet proof glass.

With only a few minutes left, two images instill the gravity of this real world event. One sees additional troops passing by a crater left by a aerial bombing, Taliban bodies strewn about. Every proper war film needs to be an anti-war film; there’s The Outpost’s contribution, this after seeing legs and bodies splintered by blasts prior. No one wins ceaseless wars. Then Caleb Landry Jones returns home. He’s starting to choke up. He’s crying. Once the aggressive, masculine rookie, Jones’ Ty Carter finally lets go. Living in an era of PTSD, it’s a critical final image, shattering myths about combat’s coolness generated by videogames or other media, and instead, leaving on war’s lasting cruelty.

Video

Compression issues hamper portions of this Blu-ray. One shot in particular, a wide angle on a bridge, totally collapses. The encode cannot handle the thick tree line, and chunks replace leaves, eroding definition. Opening scenes endure heavy banding. Occasional murkiness happens throughout, diminishing texture and giving The Outpost a digitally glossy look. This, in spite of a small grain overlay meant to add grit.

Color grading purposefully reduces black levels to a deep, navy-ish blue. True black is rare, if ever part of this imagery. Contrast, by comparison, sells the open air sunlight. Visual heat pours in windows, and when outdoors, glistens off sweating faces. There is depth and dimensionality, but in an atypical way.

Swelling amber tones further suggest the heat, and dominate the color palette. Flesh tones follow that path, and hardly any primaries slip through. The Outpost sticks to this desert aesthetic, never relenting until nightfall when those blues sweep in.

Audio

In seconds, helicopter rotors sell the incredible low-end within this DTS-HD track. It’s sensational in depth and power, hitting those deeper Hz levels, and that won’t stop with only the helis. Mortar shells and grenades explode, delivering gargantuan force. Gunfire erupts, initiating equal weight. At the end of it all, as planes drop massive bombs, their impact rattles walls. The Outpost is a foundation rocker, and proud of it.

Given the mixing quality, it’s a shame this is only 5.1. There’s a lot happening when attacks spin up. Gunfire pings in each channel, debris fields accurately fall into positionals, and there’s constant ambient activity. Brief rain effects capably sell reality, and when inside a vehicle bombarded by fire, each metal ping reverbs in that interior. Dialog isn’t lost amid the chaos either.

Extras

Director Rod Lurie delivers commentary solo. The real soldiers and book author/journalist Jake Tapper factor heavily in a 30-minute feature, bouncing between the real story and the making of. Raw footage from three different scenes (one deleted) shows the filmmaking process.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

The Outpost
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras
4

Movie

Mixing true war drama with volatile personalities, The Outpost capably shows modern combat from a variety of perspectives.

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4 (1 vote)

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