Restrepo (2010)

Now I’m betting ‘Call of Duty’ doesn’t look like so much fun to all of these teenagers.

Sebastian Junger, author of The Perfect Storm, teamed with photographer Tim Hetherington and spent a year embedded with the Second Platoon in Afghanistan, chronicling the hard work, fear and brotherhood that come with repelling a deadly enemy.

Anybody that watches a film about the war goes for a strong story, emotional wallop, cool action, and just pure entertainment. But when happens when you can get all of that in a war film that is not just real but something, this up close and personal.

Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger goes right inside of this terrible war zone where all of these guys’ lives are put at stake just about every second of every day. No matter how good of a film ‘The Hurt Locker’ or ‘Saving Private Ryan’ may be, they still don’t measure anywhere near the truth and this is what that film holds that is greater than any other war flick. Just about anything and everything that the soldiers do, the cameras are right there to capture it and it’s a real testament to how daring Hetherington and Junger were while making this film because there are some situations where they are not only put at risk of death, but they miss some pretty close bullets as well.

Another aspect of this flick that sort of seemed weird at first was how it sort of seems all-over-the-place. One scene we could be watching these guys talking about how they feel in an interview booth, the next scene they’re crying about one of their buddies just dead right in front of them, and then another scene pops up where they could be eating some din-din, messing with the cook’s titties and squeezing them. It may seem a little jumpy at times but there is still a whole lot of realism that puts you inside the lives of the soldiers that have to go through with this shit almost every day for a year and even longer.

Also, bonus points on not actually showing any of the dead peoples’ bodies or actual death footage because that would have probably just made it more like a snuff film and less of an actual documentary on these guys.

For most people, including myself, this is probably the closest I’ll ever get to experiencing being on the front-lines. However, what really got me was that there was just a constant feeling of dread that we could be listing to this guy talk about his loving family, and then the next moment, bullets are flying everywhere and he’s just about dead. The fact that these guys could still sleep knowing that they could be dead at any second really made me wonder just how the hell could they get any sleepy time whatsoever or even go back to the ‘burbs and get on with regular life. It’s like that scene in ‘The Hurt Locker’ where Jeremy Renner is in grocery shopping and he feels like a total alien to everything around him because he’s so used to the adrenaline rush of the war. It’s like that scene however when it comes to who portrays that better, it obviously has to go to this flick.

This film could have easily gone for straight-on politics but instead it’s all about the soldiers who fight for our country everyday, and it really was something else. Throughout the film, we get to know these guys for who they are, how they view death and life, and when they actually start talking about what they have experienced to fight for the country that they love, the sympathy will definitely start to swoon on in. These are real people, just like you and me and it’s really scary considering how much shit these guys have to go through but still at the end of the day be able to crack a smile and a joke. It’s gut-wrenching to watch these guys talk about their buddies that they lost in the field and what’s even worse is just how they are all able to do it with a smile, as if they fully haven’t realized that they just lost another friend, another human-being. Nobody in the whole world could ever relate or know what these guys actually go through, except maybe a vet, but even then, it was still devastating to watch.

In a world where the war is treated as if it was just an excuse for people to blow the heads off a whole bunch of Pakistanis, it was simply refreshing to get a gritty, realistic, and up-close look at the real horror that comes with being in the war. People have these unrealistic views of the war because of the trigger-happy generation we live in, but ‘Restrepo’ is not only a film that takes that whole view away from the general population, it would probably make people re-think. In a world where it seems like the Army is at every door-step trying to get more and more recruits for them, it was great to almost see a flick that shows you what comes with that and what may happen to you, if you decide to join. It’s definitely not the type of propaganda that the U.S. Army tries to go for but it didn’t need that at all. This is not a film you should see, it’s a film that you NEED to see, if you haven’t already done so.

9.5/10=Full Price!!

R.I.P. Tim Hetherington


  1. I showed this movie to my step brother, right after he had gotten back from his tour in Afghanistan. And after that scene where they get attacked, he said, “Yep, that’s exactly what it’s like.”

    Seriously harrowing stuff.

  2. Great review. I remember watching this film and seeing that blast on the military humvee in the opening scene and I immediately knew I was watching something special. The film didn’t squander any of its potential by taking a neutral approach to the war. I love that you mention video games in your review, because this film at times just felt like a nightmarish video game.

  3. Glad you liked this Dan. Definitely one of the best films of last year. While the movie doesn’t really have much of a narrative thread, I like that it’s very much a vignette in the life of these soldiers, stuck in one of the most deadly place in the world.

  4. Great review man and a great movie. If you want another hit of On-the-Ground Gulf War action then you should check out Armadillo (When and if it becomes available around you); it’s a danish production with much the same set-up as Restrepo and the same level of power, but shows yet another side to the whole war.

    When can we start calling the Second Gulf the clear successor to Nam? The number of great movies to come out of both are nearly evenly matched now and there are surely still many more stories to be told.

  5. Nice review Dan, I really enjoyed this film. Felt like you were right with the guys at the forward positions. It did not however curtail me from pwning noobs in call of duty on a regular basis.

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