Restrepo (2010) Poster


User Reviews

Review this title
85 Reviews
Sort by:
Filter by Rating:
A heart-wrenching documentary
KnightsofNi1118 February 2011
This is where documentary filmmaking becomes serious. Whatever you are expecting out of this film, chances are you will get a whole lot more. Restrepo follows a platoon of soldiers in Afghanistan who are defending a valley, Korgengal. It is said to be one of the most dangerous valleys in the entire country and these brave men take fire every single day of their brutal campaign. This is a riveting film and it is one of those that you cannot shake. It gives you a glance into the absolute darkest depths of modern warfare and just how demanding the fighting is both physically and mentally. It is a film that gives you a rare look into the horrors of war. And it is absolutely astounding.

Restrepo is shot at a very personal level. The camera never intrudes on the soldiers during their work, and thank God considering some of the harrowing things they go through in this movie. This film hardly even feels like a documentary in the sense of what we think of documentary today. It is filled with interviews, but the bulk of the movie is truly documenting the lives of these soldiers. We get to see all sides of the emotional spectrum that can be afflicted through trauma. We get to look at how different people cope with such horrors as are experienced in this film. And it is all through such respectful eyes. I never once thought, 'Wow, they should really stop filming this.' Every moment of the film feels so important and the fact that all this was so clearly and eloquently caught on camera is astounding.

The unequivocally greatest thing about this film is the fact that it has absolutely no political agenda. It really has no alternative motive other than telling the story of these incredibly brave soldiers. The film only seeks to honor the brave men who served our country in the most dangerous area imaginable. This film isn't for the political leaders responsible for the war. It isn't for the military commanders that send these soldiers into battle. This movie is for the soldiers themselves. It is a true soldier's film in every sense. It has a very stern focus on the individual. It makes such an important point out of this aspect that it could have possibly gone even further. There are a lot of men in this platoon and thus we don't get to know any one person particularly well. We get to know the platoon well as a whole and how each man interacts with his fellow soldiers and how they all deal with loss and tragedy. Each individual soldier in this movie is important and the movie strives to show how meaningful that is. It is a remarkably important aspect of the film.

You won't see many documentaries like this, and there's probably a good reason for this. The kind of footage captured in Restrepo isn't easy to get and you have to be just as brave as the soldiers themselves if you are to accompany them into battle to document their bravery. But thankfully when the opportunity to get such unforgettable footage arose, it was all put together extremely well. This is not an easy film to watch, but in the end it is so remarkably worth it.
35 out of 40 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Stop and Think About It
bobt1456 January 2011
It's a strange way to fight, without ever seeing the people you're shooting at and who are shooting at you.

The strongest aspect about this viewpoint documentary is its lack of an opinionated narration. The filmmakers--who deserve commendations of their own for putting themselves in the line of fire for 15 months--let the soldiers and their activities tell the story, the firefights, patrols, attempts to communicate with the Afghans, mundane chores.

And they let the viewer judge for meaning.

It isn't possible, however, to truly capture a year and three months in 90 minutes. I did find it curious that so much interview footage was cut. If you see it on DVD, don't miss the interviews shown under special features. Perhaps the director-cameramen wanted to keep the ratio heavier on footage than interviews.

In one omitted interview, the unit Captain admits that he thought he was responsible for losing even one soldier. He also mentions that one of those killed was the unit Sergeant Major's son. There should have been some way to weave this into the story.

Another soldier says he hates the terms "you did what you had to do" because he doesn't think he really had to do it. Says he doesn't think God will greet him with a playful punch to the shoulder and say "you did what you had to do." It's powerful stuff, the included and the omitted footage. For the most part we fight now with volunteers. The mix of soldiers is a bit different than it was when there was a draft, but "Restrepo" shows that American forces still bring a wide range of backgrounds and reactions.

And it shows that most are still so young that we are still sending kids to do the jobs old men ask them to do. They are brave, fearful, obscene, committed for the wrong reasons, committed for right reasons, and committed for no reason at all.

It's a powerful view.
57 out of 63 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
JohnDeSando19 August 2010
"The horror! The horror! " Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness.

CNN describes Afghanistan's Korangal Valley as "the most dangerous place in the world." After seeing the powerful documentary Restrepo, I can understand the description, and I can admire an almost new dimension to that type of film: objectivity.

An American company of soldiers spent 15 months in that valley with filmmakers Tom Hetherington and Sebastian Junger recording the soldiers' combat and more importantly their personal reactions. For indeed Restrepo is about soldiers fighting an enemy they can't see, a boredom they can't leave behind, and friendships they will keep forever, depending on how long forever can be in such a hostile environment.

The singular feature of this Oscar-winning film is its attempt to make no judgment about the appropriateness of the war; it just chronicles the lives of young men stretched by fate to an endurance few of us could even imagine. Not that it's all that bloody or manic; it's just that the terror of an enemy hidden by mountains hangs about like a fog to such an extent that when they do kill one far away in the foothills, they rejoice as if they had wiped out a platoon. When the tired soldiers dance to "Touch Me (I Want Your Body)" by Gunther and Samantha Fox, they celebrate life, not killing.

Back to that objectivity: Even a documentary marries fiction when directors choose some images over others. In Restrepo the choices lead me to question how the US could ever win this war, not because that's the directors' statement but because the successes are limited to building a stronghold, Restrepo (named after a fallen comrade), at the top of a mountain among mountains that dare the most powerful army in history to try to win this one when none has ever been won here. Indeed, the army has subsequently withdrawn.

While the fictional Hurt Locker minimized its bloodshed in favor of the representational, Restrepo takes no liberties but goes for the real, which in this case is like waiting around a movie set for something to happen. And when it does, it can win an Academy Award.
41 out of 52 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
A closeup of US soldiers fighting in Afghanistan
Chris Knipp5 May 2010
'One platoon, one year, one valley' goes this documentary's impressive slogan. Such concentrated focus is truly a selling point. This is vivid, intense, unvarnished stuff, and the two filmmakers won the Grand Jury Prize for documentary at Sundance this year for their troubles. Hetherington also won World Press Photo of the Year 2007 for an image of one of the soldiers resting at Restrepo, an outpost named after medic Juan Restrepo, one of their first casualties upon arriving at this dangerous place of daily combat, Afghanistan's Korangal Valley. The two embedded journalists, Sebastian Junger (of 'The Perfect Storm,' with a contract from Vanity Fair for coverage) and distinguished British war photographer Tim Hetherington, are both filming the platoon off and on all through its 15-month deployment. They don't analyze or look at a wider context. They're in effect in the foxholes, where there are no atheists, and this time no military strategists either. What they show, and show well, is the camaraderie of this American Army unit, the Second Platoon, Battle Company, 173rd Airborne Brigade, their bravery, hard work, humor, and love of one another, and, less emphatic but also constant, a deteriorating relationship with the local citizenry. If you are going to make a narrative feature about how contemporary American soldiers in daily combat look and act, this is a good place to go, and the images are superb, and bravely shot, at the cost of physical injury and at the risk of getting shot like the soldiers. The film has no structure other than the actions of the platoon, their two big projects being building OP Restrepo, a 15-man outpost above the outpost that restricted the enemy's movements, and a foray dubbed Operation Rock Avalanche, during which the troops came under the heaviest fire; some of them still have nightmares from Avalanche.

The Korangal Valley is a scene in the middle of nowhere with no escape, as the soldiers saw it on arrival -- a place of multiple daily engagements with a hidden enemy. Strategically, this place seems like it was useless. The Korangal Outpost was closed in 2009 after six years, hundreds of US wounded, and 50 US soldiers dead (and heavier losses on the less well-equipped Afghan side). Some US military actually think the Korangal Outpost -- and the outpost of the outpost, O.P. Restrepo where most of the action takes place -- only increased local sympathy for the Taliban.

This is one "context" thing we get a glimpse of, because the film shows moments from a few of the weekly "shuras" when the platoon leader, Captain Keaney, met with local "elders," scrawny men of indeterminate age, often with brightly hennaed beards. He swears at them freely (safe, since they don't know English) and replies unceremoniously to their complaints. He's a combat officer, not a negotiator. At one point one of the locals' cows gets caught up in concertina wire (we do not see this) and the troops have to kill it (and eat it, from what we hear, and a very tasty meal it was). Elders come specially to complain about this, and demand a payment for the lost animal of four or five hundred dollars. Permission is refused for this from higher command and the elders leave with only the promise of rice and grain matching the weight of the cow. It looks as if the Afghans lose face in these "shuras," but the Americans don't gain anything.

Of course there is the inevitable clash when the Americans push so close they kill some Afghan civilians and wound some children. As with all wars against partisans or insurgents, the locals are all implicated. Captain Keaney is chagrined. But the captain -- he and a handful of the soldiers are shown interviewed later throughout the film, commenting on the experience and the platoon's major projects during the deployment -- is proud of the job they did, nonetheless. They gave the enemy a harder time than their predecessors. OP Restrepo, their initiative, gave them a strategic advantage in the valley. And the men were brave, even when they were scared, and they' were kind and loyal to each other.

'Restrepo' illustrates the Chris Hedges line that opens Kathryn Bigelow's similarly intense, visceral, but unanalytical fiction film, 'The Hurt Locker,' "The rush of battle is often a potent and lethal addiction, for war is a drug." Soldiers are shown hooting with excitement and saying that being fired upon is "better than crack," and they don't know if they can go back to civilian life after living day to day with such an adrenalin rush as the Konragal Valley and Operation Rock Avalance gave them.

The festival enthusiasm is not the end of it because 'Restrepo' will be broadcast globally by National Geographic. But, reviewing the film at Sundance, Variety reviewer John Anderson argues, with some reason, that this documentary "needs a story, much like the war. The roaring lack of public interest in what the U.S. is doing in Afghanistan is largely due to a failure of storytelling: Tell us what it's about, and then we'll care." Will we? What the story of the US in Afghanistan looks like is being stuck in one place, fighting a pointless war, on varying pretexts, in impossible conditions, like Vietnam. Here we don't see the drugs and demoralization of Vietnam, though they may be there. The interviews give only a glimpse or two of the damage this deployment did on the 29 or so men -- as well as of what a very fine bunch of men they are. Michael Levine, the film's editor, who cut Venditti's great little doc 'Billy the Kid,' deserves much credit for bringing some order to a wealth of chaotic material.

Seen at the San Francisco International Film Festival.
73 out of 95 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Grunt's Eye View of a Depressing War
evanston_dad22 February 2011
Filmmakers Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger take their cameras into the trenches for a "day in the life" look at what it's like to fight in the Korengal Valley, Afghanistan, nicknamed the most dangerous place on earth.

There, a platoon of battle-weary men fight the Taliban, an elusive spectre of an enemy that they rarely actually see. They seem to have little interest in what they're doing or why they're doing it; they only come alive immediately after a fire-fight (of which they have at least 3 or 4 a day), when the adrenaline of battle gives them a natural high. The rest of the time they spend going about their more mundane duties, feeling at all times like fish in a barrel.

Late into the film, one of their men is killed in a battle that pretty much all of them agree was one of their worst moments during the whole period. Other men had been killed, but this seems to be one of the first that the men actually see die before their eyes. It has a devastating effect -- they collapse into sobs and turn instantly from fighting men into small boys, and our hearts go out to them with compassion and the frustrated regret that they have to live like this while the rest of us go about our cushy existence.

"Restrepo" confirms what a lot of fictional accounts of the War on Terror (or whatever it is we're calling it now) have suggested: the feelings of determination and vengeance that got us into all of these messy military conflicts have long since given way to depressed resignation. No one is really sure what we're doing anymore, these soldiers least of all, and watching "Restrepo" didn't feel much different from watching a documentary about Vietnam.

Grade: A
23 out of 29 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Shooting Hell
proterozoic19 March 2011
How does a soft, liberal-arts civilian like me even approach a document like "Restrepo"? I don't give myself to blind, reflexive worship of the military; before, I have reviewed "Taxi to the Dark Side," an investigation into some chilling crimes committed by individuals in the armed forces, almost surely with the knowledge and approval of their superiors. This, however, is a film, shot by two insane journalists who spent a year with American Army troops in Afghanistan's Korangal valley, and it portrays men who are different from the rest of us in that they have faced and survived the impossible.

Outpost Restrepo was named after a beloved comrade killed in action, and it was dug and fortified under constant enemy gunfire. The Taliban just hated giving up the position, and the men describe how they would dig for several minutes, then be forced to pick up their weapons and return fire, and after the gunfight died down, go right back to digging. The outpost is only several hundred meters from a larger base, but in case of an attack, support might as well be stationed in Germany.

The all-seeing documentarians capture the men's brutal physical labor under a constant state of siege and barely-adequate resupply, until violence and discomfort become life's permanent background. The soldiers are forced to go on regular patrols through the countryside, tracking the progress of development projects and trying to build trust among the locals, whose allegiances are never clear. If they are only listening with one ear, if they're only out to hedge their bets between the fighting sides, who can blame them?

The film culminates in an account of a firefight during an offensive called "Rock Avalanche" – words that the testifying soldiers cannot say without a shudder. The mission consists of the men being loudly airdropped on a hilltop and moving around valleys and mountains until attacked by the Taliban. They push onwards, trying not to think which step will finally trigger the inevitable ambush. The ambush occurs; the live footage cuts out, and for several minutes, we follow the brutal firefight only through the soldiers' testimony. It is gut-wrenching. The pain and terror of the men who return fire without knowing which of their fellows are still alive and if they themselves will live for another minute are suffocating. Then, the footage is back, and we see a private wailing like a child over the dead body of the unit's favorite commander. If this can happen to the best among us, he says, what chance do the rest of us have?

It is an astonishing thing to contemplate, but even at the end of so much hostile fire, the Americans have the better deal. The young men who passed through the trials are scarred and damaged by their experience, but they knew the date when it would end, and the bird was there to take the survivors back to a better life. The local Afghans' pain has no end. Frightened, grimy faces peer out of gashes in dirt walls. Children hide their eyes, dressed in scraps of their grandparents' clothes. The doorways of their mud shacks open into black pits – even in midday, the sun is unable to dispel the darkness. The village elders are a sight from another millennium – gnarly, weather-beaten, half-decayed faces that seem to have been chopped out of rotting tree trunks. You could easily give every one of them a couple of centuries, but who knows? They may still be in their thirties. I've had some rough years as a child of the third world, but I can't imagine even a tenth of what these people go through in their lives.

So many excellent films have come out of our latest painful conflicts – "Restrepo," "Generation Kill," "Taxi to the Dark Side," "Gunner Palace"… Almost all of them have been financial failures. Who wants to spend ten dollars to get depressed and emotionally drained? What exactly are we supposed to feel at the end of "Restrepo"? Not hope. Maybe futility, weariness and an incredible desire to think about something else.

I wondered if the place I saw in "Restrepo" really exists on the same planet as the Metropolitan Opera. Will its misery ever end?
57 out of 68 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Restrepo !!!
estebangonzalez1019 February 2011
¨My personal low point? - Rock Avalanche, I saw a lot of professional tough guys go weak in the knees.¨ Restrepo is one of the five pictures nominated for Best Documentary at the Oscars and it also won the Grand Jury Prize in the 2010 Sundance Film Festival. It's beautifully directed and filmed by Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger (writer of The Perfect Storm). The huge success of this film and what separates it from the hundreds of other war pictures is that Junger puts us right in the middle of the action without any political agenda. He simply decides to film these groups of soldiers who have been deployed to one of the most dangerous locations in Afghanistan and lets us experience their day to day lives without making any pro or anti war comments. We are allowed to see a small glimpse of what the American soldiers have to go through and how they live amongst the villagers. In a way Junger allows the soldiers being filmed to tell their own story. We experience what they are going through in this dangerous war zone and how they interact with the local people. The cinematography is actually quite astonishing and I really felt like I was there with the soldiers. Restrepo made me appreciate even more last year's Oscar winning picture: The Hurt Locker, because it showed me how real that film actually was. At one point one of the soldiers even claims that no rush is as high as being shot at in the middle of a war zone. War can be addictive and it actually is for some soldiers.

The camera silently follows an American platoon that is being deployed to one of the most dangerous war zones in Afghanistan known as the Korangal Valley for a period of 15 months during 2007. The film begins while the platoon is arriving at the base and some of the soldiers share their thoughts about beginning their service in such a dangerous zone. We follow these soldiers as they live in tents in the middle of a valley where danger is eminent. They have to experience gun fights almost every day, and at the same time they have to adapt to the environment. When they are not fighting, we see the soldiers digging for protection; we see them burning their own feces, and just goofing around while they wait for next gunfight to take place. A day without action is nonexistent in the Korangal Valley. It is during one of these gunfights that one of the soldiers is mortally wounded, his name was Restrepo and the rest of the soldiers decide to build a resistance camp named O.P. Restrepo on his behalf. Restrepo changed the entire mood of the soldiers and they were ready to have their revenge. At the same time that the soldiers have to fight off the Taliban they also try to improve their relations with the locals who have a difficult time accepting the Americans (especially after they kill one of their cows).

The movie isn't pro or anti war; it simply places the camera in the middle of the action and lets us experience what is going on. No one's opinion about War is going to change: those who favor Americans involvement in Afghanistan will still do so after watching this documentary and those who don't will still feel the same because the directors don't try to manipulate us into thinking the way they do. There aren't any personal opinions about politics or war; it's all about experiencing what these soldiers have to go through every day whether or not they actually understand what they are fighting for. Some of my favorite parts of the documentary were the scenes where the Captain meets with the local villagers and tries to make allies out of them and the Rock Avalanche operation. The Captain really doesn't have a clue of the way the villagers think and goes the wrong way about trying to convince them to help the Americans. The Rock Avalanche Operation was really intense and was the climatic point of the film. I really loved the interviews with the soldiers with the camera closing-up on their faces (The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly style). Restrepo is a really good and memorable documentary that will stay with you for days. It is only 90 minutes long so it is really worth your time.
21 out of 26 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
a courageous film that shows a war that is, like the Korangal Valley, a loop of grit and despair
Quinoa198417 July 2010
It's inarguable that we need to support up the soldiers in Afghanistan. It's the cliché in political speeches, but this film shows that this is more than just a saying when given a human face and context. Restrepo doesn't try and bluntly make the case that the conflict there that the US is engaged in is really worth it, or that we should leave immediately. The filmmakers let the soldiers speak for themselves, and the situation tells much more about what's really going on there. The ground troop that makes Restrepo- named after a much beloved fallen man that died suddenly during a small attack- which is a fort on a hill overlooking the valley, are all mostly kids who are in the army for one reason or another (one of them, who gives the most background, came from a hippie-family), and they are where they are and got to buck up with the situation for the months into the year it goes on till they are relieved.

We see some of the action, but if you're looking for the traditional war film please look elsewhere. This doesn't share the intensity of, say, last year's The Hurt Locker, but the film isn't on the same wavelength stylistically. Junger and Hetherington want these faces of the soldiers, and their experiences, to tell more than the visceral shocks that are shown on screen. Point in fact, there isn't a whole lot of action on screen, either because, logically, it would be difficult for the already in-grave-danger cameraman to get it on film (most of all that Rocky Mountain Ridge episode that everyone's haunted by), or that the US Army wouldn't allow it to be shown in the film. It's here, in having the lack of what we expect to see in a war film, that it gathers its strength and resonance.

The film Restrepo is engaging and absorbing as a collection of moments and scenes, detailing what everyday life was like there, and sometimes it could be just plain dull, or on the 'downlow' as it were. We see the dealings the army tries to make with the locals, who are either too scared of the Taliban (one gets the sense they're like a mafia with bigger guns) or don't want to help since, frankly, the US ends up killing a few civilians here and there, many of whom have never seen US troops before. Or, on the flipside, those that do want to deal with the soldiers after a cow is caught in the outlying fence on the perimeter and is killed, which is valuable property to the natives. And we also get to see how these guys, mostly kids in their early 20's or younger, having some relaxing time when not being fired at or firing back.

To be sure, some sequences are intense, such as the Rocky Mountain Ridge tale which has the soldiers being interviewed still unable to handle with the casualties and how they were surrounded by the Afghan forces. But what one walks away from this film, shot in the Korangal with straightforward, sobering shots of soldiers doing what they do, and with telling interviews shot much later when they were in Italy, is how they weathered the chaos and did accomplish something there with the fort (albeit later abandoned altogether in April 2010). It's extraordinary to see it so up close, and to put the human face on it. The audience, however they feel about the conflict currently (from the looks of things Obama's keeping soldiers there for longer stretches until "it" is "won"), get a fresh perspective and can walk away with their own conclusions. That, and those haunted faces of the soldiers themselves, who in profile have that stare in their eyes, sometimes more-so than others depending on when talking about what, and knowing that look may be there for the rest of their lives.
31 out of 53 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
God Help Us...
OCOKA1 December 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Interesting to note how out of touch the average American is with its own military, as is expressed by the litany of repetitious back-slapping preceding comments like "awesome" and "wonderful" and "outstanding". IMO, these comments reek of incredulity and are not only naive, but are indicative of a thrill-seeking audience seeking a vicarious experience from reality-based versions of "Saving Private Ryan" or "Blackhawk Down", albeit with little or no comprehension of what is actually going on, let alone viewing our military in action with a critical eye.

That said, as a former 11B20 and civil affairs soldier, there were a few scenes that made me cringe:

1) In a country where the per capita income is less than $500 per year, and where a man's cow is a man's livelihood and transportation -- an Afghani farmer would regards his cow the same way we regard our own pick-up truck or car here -- this particular unit (2nd Platoon, B Co. 2-503rd AIR, 173rd BCT) couldn't come up with a measly $400 to compensate the farmer for the cow they had eaten, choosing instead to use the flimsy pretext that since the cow got caught in their perimeter wire, it had to be "put down". I guarantee you, this will come back to haunt us on another day, at another time, on another battlefield albeit with the same people, as it will probably be one of the reasons why this particular village and their descendants will continue to nurse a grudge against us for next 1,000 years or more. We should've nipped it in the bud when we had the chance and paid the pittance sum for something we basically stole. Bottom line: Poor leadership and lack of cultural sensitivity and empathy will be our undoing there.

2) In the regular meeting with the tribal elders -- the weekly "shuras" -- the villagers brought up the fact that innocent civilians and family members had been killed by ISAF/Coalition forces. The unit's C.O., Captain Kearney, instead of offering his condolences and apologies like a normal human being would -- in addition to doing his job like he should've done by duly compensating that family in accordance with what ISAF forces are authorized to do -- instead chose to dismissively ignore their complaint and flippantly told them to "forget about it" and that they "need to move on," as if he were telling an ex-girlfriend to f&%$ off.

Not only did he write them off completely without expressing any sympathy or attempt to show any empathy whatsoever, Captain Kearney put another nail in the coffin of the U.S./Afghani partnership in that embattled country, as it is highly likely that such insensitivity and lack of remorse by an American officer toward an Afghani villager won't be forgotten anytime soon by that family or village for at least another 1,000 years.

Again, this was just another example of another incident where we could've and should've nipped it in the bud by using common sense, human decency and blood money to win back the population. Also, this particular unit erred by big time by not having a full-time C.A. (civil affairs) officer attached to this unit to interface between the C.O. and the indigenous population. (Infantry officers, like Capt. Kearney, make poor negotiators.) Bottom line: Poor leadership and a lack of cultural sensitivity and empathy will be our undoing there.

Then, to top things off, in the behind-the-scenes footage, Captain Kearney returns to Ft. Benning and where he not only gets a promotion to Major, but is basically rewarded with a highly coveted posting with the elite Rangers. As he awaits orders, we are shown a glimpse of Kearney's family life, as he continues to play with his little boy and catch up with his wife as if nothing has happened.

So for certain, Major Kearney, with a family of his own, could imagine how the Afghanis in the Korangal felt about losing a family member -- but in fact, and incomprehensibly so, he didn't or couldn't, as he failed to show even a modicum of remorse, or even a de minimus amount of sympathy or empathy to their plight. Having said that, how are we supposed to win this war if our country is being represented by arseholes and hypocrites like that? In actuality, the futility and hopelessness of the campaign that this documentary captured should've inspired a different if not more befitting title like, "God Help Us."
48 out of 68 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
And I thought "The Hurt Locker" & "...Private Ryan" were intense.
Deckard-168 December 2010
After living (because "experiencing" is too weak a word here) this film for the last 2 & 1/2 hours (the DVD extras are equal to the feature) I will not be able to see another combat film for a very very long time.

What Sebastian Junger & Tim Hetherington have captured with this doc may be the final word about soldiers in combat & their thoughts afterword.

Afghanistan has been called a place "where dynasties go to die". The men shown here mostly don't give a flying f**k about history or politics. All they are concerned about is getting one day closer to the end of their 15 month deployment in the most dangerous on Earth AND the guys on either side of them.

This is most clear-eyed view of fighting I've seen since (the excellent) "Gunner Palace". Junger/Hetherington put their own asses on the line getting their footage & wisely kept completely out of their own picture. It drags at times because it shows that fighting is about burning their own human waste, building dirt barriers & killing time before the next kill --a kill they rarely see. The interviews interlaced among the field footage are as riveting as the fighting.

BUT make no mistake the fighting is as hellaciously intense as "Black Hawk Down" & "...Ryan". However J/H pull back from the gore. There are PG-13 movies which are more graphic in their violence. The real "graphic" parts of this film are the emotions in the faces & the eyes of the men. Sometimes it is difficult to figure out what comes first: the man inside or the soldier outside.

Buy the DVD. The extras are huge.
28 out of 44 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
21st Century Cowboys and Indians
tieman6426 April 2011
Warning: Spoilers
"Is there any man here that does not know that the seed of war in the modern world is industrial and commercial rivalry?" – Woodrow Wilson

Like most "fly on the wall" war documentaries, "Restrepo" is an exercise in macho sentimentality. The tale of a U.S. Army platoon based in Afghanistan, it unfolds like a typical war movie, alternating between moments of downtime, and moments of tense, adrenaline pumping violence. Simple military values and emotions are then espoused – sacrifice, heroism, male bonding, the frustrations and drudgery of killing an unseen enemy – the end result being a narrative arc designed to make you feel sad for what our boys, and their zillions of dollars worth of hardware, must endure in the name of spreading "freedom". It's Kipling's "White Man's Burden" posing as objectivity.

The soldiers themselves are the usual assortment of jar-heads; most view war as a rights of passage, a chance to prove their manhood, define themselves, go on an adventure and do "something important". These are trivial reasons to enlist, but the military has always been a cultic institution, preying on the anxieties and insecurities of the young.

"Armadillo" pretends to be apolitical, but the very act of avoiding all context is itself a firm ideological stance. What the film ignores is the fact that the Taliban have been deliberately dehumanised by the West for a number of decades. They are painted as irrational fanatics, intolerant fundamentalists, bearded extremists, and terrorists. This, of course, paves the way for aggression, war, and genocide, all of which are waged under the guise of collective self-defence. Killing the Taliban is then celebrated as a legal virtue. To leave the Taliban in control of Afghanistan, says the US and NATO, is to leave a haven for terrorism.

Yet before 9/11, these same "terrorists" were Washington's close allies. They were funded, supported and hailed as "freedom fighters" who with "our help" would be able to fend off the Soviet Union, whom the American public were told sought to destroy Afghanistan. Under the pretext that the Afghan government was a Soviet puppet, which was false, the then Carter Administration authorised the covert funding of opposition tribal groups. These groups were armed and trained in secret camps set up in Pakistan by the CIA.

Thus was born "mujaheddin", a campaign of terror which resulted in the Afghan government in Kabul requesting the help of the Soviet Union, resulting in an ill-fated military intervention which ended ten years later with the retreat of Soviet forces and the descent of Afghanistan into an abyss of religious intolerance, poverty, warlordism and violence. So contrary to "official history", the mujaheddin did not arise in response to a hostile Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. The Soviet Union intervened at the request of the Afghan government in response to the instability being wrought by a US funded and armed insurgency. See Nicaragua, Syria, Iraq and Libya.

After 9/11, the White House then turned against the very "allies" they supported, a pattern which we find occurring throughout history. Think Washington's funding of Saddam Hussein against Iran, prior to sweeping in and wiping him out decades later. In the case of the Taliban, the justification for their newfound status as "our enemies" became their supposed links to the WTC attacks and their sudden "oppression of women". In reality the Taliban had nothing to do with 9/11, and were the White House concerned about women's rights they wouldn't be close allies with countless other counties, most notably Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, both of which practise an "Islamic Law" akin to the Taliban.

The real reason for the West's change of stance toward Afghanistan? During the mid 90s several mega oil corporations began to seduce the Taliban, all seeking approval to build pipelines across the country. Eventually the deal came down to a handful of corporations, the Unocal-CentGas consortium (which later "became" Chevron, and which has ties to the Bush family and Dick Cheney) and Bridas (an Argentine company). While negotiations were underway, Bridas found a partner in gas giant Amoco and Amoco itself went on to merge with British Petroleum. Throw in the fact that Gazprom, a Russian gas company, pulled out of the Unocal-CentGas consortium and that Unocol's proposed pipeline was closed to Afghanistan, whilst that proposed by Bridas would also service the local market, and it looked likely that the Taliban would strike business deals with Bridas. In response, Unocal and its lackeys stepped up their game. Their Vice President of International Relations appeared before the US Congress in February 1998, basically calling for the removal of the Taliban regime. The Taliban themselves were issued an ultimatum: take our offer or we drop the bombs. Meanwhile, cue the Clinton administration's sudden concern about "human right violations" in Afghanistan, the seizing of all US-held Taliban assets, the placement of trade bans, and the calling for the "surrender of Bin Laden". In other words, it was only when absolute control of oil was challenged that the Taliban regime was openly discredited.

Although the Taliban continued to offer negotiations on the handover of Osama bin Laden, the atrocities of 9/11 gave Washington oil policies a convenient new all-inclusive justification. Oil motivations, never a popular foreign-policy justification, could now be submerged within a primal response to a deep-seated national combination of fear, loathing and outrage.

Incidentally, drug trafficking constitutes the third largest global commodity after oil and the arms trade. Afghanistan produces 92 percent of the world's opium, the profits of which are laundered back to the West or channelled toward corrupt chieftains and locals. The longer the war can be prolonged, the more these 3 industries profit. Unsurprisingly, most of the major White House players during this era were affiliated with oil companies active in Central Asia (Condolezza Rice, Bush, Zalmay Khalilzad, Hamid Karzai, Cheney, Donald Evans, Gale Norton, Spencer Abraham, Thomas White etc).

6/10 – Superficial.
10 out of 16 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Forward Outpost Restrepo
ronan411-476-13685427 September 2013
I completely disagree with the above review. If the Junger and Hetherington want to make a documentary - they are perfectly entitled to make it the way they see fit, and if they chose not to become the immersed in politics of the conflict then so be it. If you want to see that kind of documentary - switch on the History Channel any night of the week. The viewer gets right into the action in 'Restrepo' with the soldiers and it has given many a young person second thoughts about joining the military. That in itself is praise enough for this awesome documentary on man's inhumanity to man. The action shots are superb and real - you do not want any of the soldiers to be hurt because you get to know them as the film progresses.
5 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Thugs vs. thugs (war summed up)
AJ4F1 May 2011
It wasn't boring, but this just wasn't a movie I could get inspired or awed by. For the most part, I found the demeanor of the soldiers a lot like inner city toughs playing out their regular lives with an exotic backdrop.

I actually think this movie LACKED violence, which it needed more of to get its "shock value" across. Lots of gunfire scenes but only brief, sanitized glimpses of war carnage, which would have really shocked the audience. I don't recall seeing any incoming fire except for an explosion on the road near the beginning. For all the "heavy fire" they took daily, there wasn't a whole lot of footage.

Then there were the macro-pore closeup interviews with the usual "it was bad over there, man...really bad" dialog. I'm not making light of their pain but none of it seemed like new territory in a documentary.

I wasn't impressed by crude references to a ranch where all you really do is shoot wildlife, a kid calling his mother a (bleep'n) hippie, and similar low-brow stuff. I'm not knocking the bravery of the volunteer army, but it makes these foreign conflicts seem not much different than turf wars in American ghettos. The Taliban are probably the equivalent of U.S. gangsters over there. Dull-eyed people creating trouble out of thin air for the most part, over greed and ego. "It's been going on for ten thousand years" says an old song.

"Restrepo" reminded me of what's wrong with the whole human race; the lack of foresight and thoughtfulness, with a shoot first, ask questions later mentality. I am weary of those who say "we're just doing our job" without seriously (as nations) questioning the futility of warfare and all the lives that end up being wasted just so similar conflicts can arise again somewhere else.
24 out of 46 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
why everyone hates Americans
lily-yo12 March 2011
Warning: Spoilers
don't get me wrong...the American soldiers did their soldiering well...the reality of what happens in the field was fantastic...interestingly, the movie dispels any illusions of high tech capability/applicability in the conditions of the valley...they sure did a lot of shooting without hitting anything...OK, it was covering fire

more interestingly, there was a total disconnect between the military and the villagers...a lack of respect, sensitivity and cultural just don't speak like the soldiers did to the elders - zero respect with a we-tell-you attitude...and the soldiers didn't get point about the cow - we'll give you its weight in rice - you've got to be kidding? ... and they "knew" it was the elders' sons who were shooting at like, shooting back will win hearts and minds?

oh yes, the 'end' goal was to put a road in...i really wonder whether anyone local wanted it

but give the US soldiers their due...they stuck it out and did what they were ordered.
32 out of 48 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Very Strong Documentary
Michael_Elliott10 July 2012
Restrepo (2010)

*** 1/2 (out of 4)

Filmmakers Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger spent time with a platoon of U.S. soldiers as they were placed on a tour in the Korengal Valley of Afghanistan, which is considered one of the deadliest places you could go. Throughout the year the filmmakers were able to capture a wide range of events and emotions including the men losing friends, going into battles without the necessary tools and also having to deal with locals who many have families fighting with the Taliban. RESTREPO has a clear anti-war message that might rub some the wrong way but I think the majority of people, no matter what side of the debate they're on, should enjoy this documentary for a number of reasons but the biggest is the fact that it really gets you into a platoon and so close to the action and I'd say it does this more than any film before it. Yes, Hollywood has pumped out countless war pictures going with platoons on missions but this one here is real and the violence is real. I think some of the most dramatic scenes are of course the ones where the soldiers come under attack because it gives you a clear idea of the terror and confusion going on when someone is fired upon. There's one scene where a soldier is killed during a battle and just seeing what follows with his friends seeing him die is without a doubt very powerful. The most interesting footage comes during meetings between the soldiers and the actual people of this village, many of whom are upset with the death of their children, family or friends. In one of the strangest scenes, one Afghan man is upset because the soldiers killed his cow after it was caught up in one of their safety wires. RESTREPO is a must see simply because of the access the filmmakers had and of course the stories of the men who knowingly walk into dangerous and deadly battles each day.
2 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
interesting reporting? yes. award-winning documentary? no.
prestonloyola27 December 2010
It's a sad commentary on contemporary journalism that a film like Restrepo can win a prestigious award like the Grand Jury 2010 Sundance Best Documentary Award. Basically, the film-makers embed themselves with a US platoon in Afghanistan, document the experience, and intersperse interviews of some of the soldiers (taken after the period in question) throughout. There's no attempt to place the events in a larger context, no narrative to tie anything with the policy decisions taken in Washington, all we get is a raw "life in Afghanistan" seen through the eyes of soldiers on the ground in a single location. Don't get me wrong, it is quite interesting to actually see some of what is going on the ground in Afghanistan, after the thousands of hours of TV punditry and miles of newspaper column inches that media heads have filled with opinions, debates, tirades and justifications of the so called "war on terror". But this is the kind of reporting that should be omnipresent in our media, something you might see in a segment on 60 minutes, or some other outlet for investigative journalism (of which there are fewer and fewer).

Unfortunately, as we know, investigative journalism is expensive, and has dramatically been cut down in our age of media mega mergers. It's a lot cheaper to stick a few people around a table to mouth off on TV (and then cover the debate in the print media), then it is to ship true journalists across the globe (and around the centers of power in the US) who are not afraid to stir things up and take on the powers that be.

And so something like Restrepo - which is a bog standard journalistic piece - becomes an award winning documentary film. Examples of the kind of items that might be included in a wider scope documentary film worthy of awards: - Restrepo like footage in multiple locations in Afghanistan - similar footage of the other side (Taliban/AlQaeda or whomever is actually doing the fighting) with interviews on the reasons - interviews with the policy makers in DC explaining what the policies are and why, what they are trying to achieve - compare these goals with what is going on the ground - facts and figures about how much money is being spent on the war (compare to how much is being spent on Afghan aid), start digging into which corporations are making the most profit out of it - look at the cozy ties between retired DoD personnel and defense contractors etc, etc, etc you can just keep pulling at strings forever really... Tie everything into a cohesive narrative, maybe start actually providing answers to the still unanswered question of what we are actually still doing in Afghanistan, and maybe we would have an important documentary film worthy of an award. But a context free year in the life of a US platoon - sorry guys, that just doesn't cut it.
37 out of 70 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Innocents Abroad?
nyshrink2 July 2010
Warning: Spoilers
The film follows a platoon of US soldiers building an outpost in the Korengal Valley of Afghanistan. Cinema verite-style, we see them shoot at the Taliban, search a home, interrogate individuals, meet with village elders, enjoy leisure time and get killed. There are also some interviews with surviving soldiers later. My impression of the war from this film is that if this is the way we are fighting terrorism, it has got to be the slowest and costliest way to do it.

One soldier dies on camera (or rather, he is caught on camera right afterward). The reaction to this is poignant. Even more depressing is a scene in which the soldiers visit a home after a US helicopter has dropped a bomb on it. We see a dead child and several injured people. The soldiers don't seem to be particularly upset, although their captain expresses regret and anxiety in a later interview. In several meetings with villagers, soldiers seem brusque while listening to complaints ranging from a request for money for a villager's cow the soldiers apparently ate and the number of innocent civilians killed by a previous platoon. I began to think that public relations skills must not be part of the training at West Point. And this was when they were being filmed--what is it like when the camera isn't there? The captain talks about how the villagers will get a road and jobs, as if this is more important than someone's child who was killed.

I wondered as I watched the film how many of the soldiers portrayed understand how the India-Pakistan conflict over Kashmir, or the U.S.'s support for Israel's war against the Palestinians, or the US's support of the dictatorships of Egypt and Saudi Arabia led to Sept. 11 and created the conditions that led to their being in Afghanistan and their comrades getting killed. If any of them find out this information, my guess is they might be very, very angry. The interviews help us learn more about some of the individual soldiers, but not much. Some have been deeply affected by their experience, but it isn't clear if they learned much from it. Overall, the film is touching and at times riveting, but also frustrating.
18 out of 35 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
War Is Terrifying.
DucDeRichleau13 September 2019
Watching this is about as real as it can get.Well apart from the sheer terror of actually being there.Heart in mouth documentary about basically a lot of kids thrown into a mad,crazy and very scary situation. Knowing any second could be their last. Powerful stuff.Makes you realize how brave ANYONE who puts a uniform on and goes into a life or death battle situation really is. Fighting a (for the most part) unseen enemy in THEIR own backyard is a hard task. IF you didn't have respect for the armed forces you will have after watching this.
2 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
A Small Cruel War
YohjiArmstrong29 April 2011
Warning: Spoilers
RESTREPO is a documentary about US soldiers in the Korengal Valley of Afghanistan, recorded over the period of one year.

The Korengal Valley was the most dangerous place in Afghanistan until it was abandoned by US troops. This documentary captures the isolation and the danger equally, though its strength lies in the way it records the soldiers; their rituals, reflections, jokes and professionalism.

The films single weakness and greatest strength both stem from outside the Valley. The single weakness of the film is that, we never see these soldiers in a non-war environment. The similar Danish documentary ARMADILLO benefited from the way it showed the soldiers at peace, at war and then returned home. The strength are the post-Afghanistan interviews where the soldiers explain how they felt and how the experiences have changed them. A few of these interviews are simply harrowing.

RESTREPO is a good documentary that well deserves the plaudits it has earned.
3 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Tim Hetherington's Legacy
valleyjohn27 April 2011
Exactly 7 days ago British director Tim Hetherington died in Libya from an RPG while working . Respeto will be his legacy.

This is an eye opening documentary film which follows an American platoon for a year in the most dangerous area of Afghanistan - The Korangal Valley. We see the toll the Afghan war takes on a group of young men who have been put in a near impossible position thanks to a bunch of oil greedy politicians. You get to see how close these men get to dying thanks to some fantastic and brave camera work. There are some very upsetting moment as the platoon lose men along the way and Innocent Afghanistan women and children die in the crossfire. How these , or any other men can put themselves through this is beyond me but they have my total respect despite my thought that we should never be in this unwinnable war. 90% of this movie is real footage where the other 10% are interviews with the soldiers. Restrepo is a superb documentary and it's a crying shame that we will never see this directors work again. Tim Hetherington R.I P
5 out of 9 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
A great insight look at what U.S soldiers in combat go through, every-day. A very intense documentary.
ironhorse_iv11 November 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Though I walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, I fear no evil. Welcome to the suck! Directed by American journalist Sebastian Junger, this documentary tells the story of American troops stationed in the Korengal Valley in northeastern Afghanistan during the Afghan War of the early 21th century. At the time of this film was made, Korengal Valley was one of the most deadly active combat zone in U.S military history. Filmed during the 2007/2008 years of the War in Afghanistan. The film takes a fly-on-the-wall approach, by showing how the men of Battle Company 2nd of the 503rd Infantry Regiment 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team run the area, as they try to negotiations with the local people, construction of an advanced outpost, as well as the challenges and intermittent firefights they face. Interspersed between stock footage of action, are interviews with the soldiers themselves as they look back on what they did right and wrong, and how it affected them. The emotional distress that the soldiers went, through is very haunting. It's really hard to watch them, talk about certain mission, such as Operation Rock Avalanche, due to its tragic consequences. The movie use close up, during the interviews, so well, that you can see the expressions on their faces, not realizing or understanding how they're going to live with this experience for the rest of their lives. Nothing is "candy coated". Just pure, raw energy, bravery, and emotion. While, the combat footage doesn't show, any of the enemy. You can really, tell, how, their unseen presence, affect the soldiers, there. They hardly any down time, in the beginning. I'm awe-inspired by their courage under fire, even if, most of the time, they shooting bullets at ghosts. However, there were some funny parts to lighten up the film toward the middle and the end. The exchange between the elders of the village and the soldiers, about a shot cow was somewhat humorous to witness. Why in the living hell, would the captain think that the locals would take a small bag of rice and beans, over steak, would work!? It's really unbelievable funny, how naïve, the captain is. However, the scene where the troops are celebrating on being alive, dancing to Samantha Fox's song, "Touch me" was fun to watch. Still, the movie's shaking cam is a bit of a headache to watch. You can barely figure out, what's going on and to whom, half the time. There are just way too many men for this documentary to cover. I really didn't to know, most of them, that well. It doesn't help that the movie footage is full of military jargon and acronyms. There is a lack of subtlety within the language. It doesn't help, that some of the documentary footage, makes, the morals of the soldiers, somewhat look questionable. Lots of over-violent aggressive masculine being shown here, rather than winning the hearts & minds heroics. It's also weird to see, that most of them, have little to no idea, why they're fighting here. The movie doesn't once, address their views of the war. They never address, if their actions, are doing good or not. Other things, that the film fails to talk about, is the legal basis of their occupation like actions. In truth, the army has little to no legal right to order the Afghan citizens around. It's the job of the local police. The movie shows great examples of the loss of communications, between the local tribes and those of the U.S military. You really do, see, the villagers' perspective, in safety when it comes to protecting their families and clan members. From their point of view, the presence of the U.S. military hasn't made their lives more secure. Quite the opposite; their presence endangers them, and no amount of money from the military can change, their opinion on it. It a sign of really bad leadership, when the only way, to solve a problem is to toss money at it. You really do see the lack of cultural sensitivity and empathy within the soldiers. Never once, did the documentary, show the soldiers trying to understand, Afghan culture and why they live, the way, they do. It also hurts to see, the soldiers rarely showing empathy when it comes to accidentally innocent civilians. You would think, they would be more apologetic. Things like that, could be, our undoing there, if we don't address them. In the end, U.S. military did had pulls out of the Korengal Valley, because fail to win the heart & minds of the locals. Still, it's not too late for, building relationship with the whole country. Overall: While, some critics see this film as an American jingoism propaganda. Others see it as an objective movie about the war in Afghanistan. In my opinion, it's both, anti-war and patriotic. It's a gritty depiction of the (sur) realities of modern warfare. A must-watch.
3 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
slice of life war documentary
HEFILM26 June 2010
Recent (say in the last ten years) Fiction films about war, BLACK HAWK DOWN for example, have taken the same approach this films takes. The men are men doing a "job" and earn our respect on that level. The fact they do "the job" is what earns our respect. The fact that War isn't your usual job is not questioned, not by the filmmakers or by the men doing the job.

Part of the job is not to question the job and you don't do a lot of debating while you're either hiding or shooting to save your own life. That's more of a Hollywood idea of war than reality anyway it would seem.

This keeps the film from being political, so doesn't alienate people who are pro or con to the specific war the movie might be about.

So this fits into our modern war film approach comfortably on that level. Does it need more than a slice of life approach to be fascinating and tension filled? Not really, if it's done well enough and this film is very well done. The men interviewed talk about being disturbed but they way they talk is real, one guy who can't really sleep at all since actually smiles through his this part of his interview, hiding his horror behind telling something he finds embarrassing. This is so different than the "acted" stories of war we get in movies traditionally and such.

Could the film have let us know some history to the valley the men are stuck in or try to let us in tactically a little more from a distance. Probably could have, though bits of this are filled in by the troops as they are the new group in the area and some past mistakes haunt them and they repeat some of those same mistakes. War isn't really a clean job after all or a nice one.

The central battle has very little footage, obviously the cameramen were hiding for their lives so that section is a series of very very close up talking heads, the professionally detached talking heads of those involved and their armor does crack as they get into it, the little actual footage of the battle shows the real raw reactions.

This is making the best of a bad situation for the filmmakers, but it does rob us the horrid experience of the initial attack.

No enemy dead are shown at all in the film, only some collateral damage victims. This, it could be argued, is slanted a bit from the filmmakers point of view, or of course is just a limitation of their "embedded" status with their troops. Perhaps, the film suggests, they rarely see the enemy up close in this particular valley fight. Perhaps, but they aren't shown for whatever reason. Likewise there is scant footage of some of those U.S. troops who die when they are alive. This does also take away some emotional connection. And frankly when everyone wears the same uniform and has the same haircut it does get confusing at a few points as to who is who.

Some of the footage is very crudely recorded, shaky/grainy to a distracting degree--to be expected, but don't sit too close in the theater. It's edited and assembled very well, if there is/are movie tricks, and certainly there are, in terms of "faking" reaction shots or re-ordering events to make it more dramatic---it's seamlessly done. It all feels honest.

It's a very very good slice of life and puts you there with the men. And though very young they do mostly come off as men. That's all it does and it does it perfectly. There is no "ulimate" film on this war because, of course it's still going on. This film would seem to suggest that it's not going to end with us, "on top" but it doesn't say one way or the other. If you want to see our volunteer army in action in one specific area for one year, there hasn't been anything better previous to this film or in any of the Iraq movies, docu and fiction, done so far.
11 out of 25 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
There's An Element Of Having Seen It All Before
Theo Robertson11 July 2013
Named after a medic killed in a Taliban attack RESTREPO is a documentary featuring a tour of B Company of the 2nd Battlion of the American 503rd Infantry regiment in the Korangal Valley in Afghanistan in 2007 and documents the realities of life and death in a counter-insurgency conflict We've all heard of Afghanistan and we all have an opinion on it and this shows the earlier stages of the conflict . This is the problem with RESTREPO when it was released in 2010 in that it had a slightly seen it all before feel which is heavily compounded if like me you've seen it for the very first time in 2013 . Let me elaborate:

In 2006 Nato lost 193 troops in Afghanistan

2007 Nato lost 228 troops

2008 Nato lost 296 troops

2009 Nato lost 516 troops

2010 Nato lost 710 troops

All this makes very grim reading and a tragedy for the people involved . Afghanistan was the Mecca for journalists from all over the world to make a name for themselves for either decent honest motives or for rather more cynical motives . Either way the country and the combatants would be a daily feature on news and documentary channels and we've seen these type of documentaries before such as the BBC's few genuinely compelling documentaries of recent years OUR WAR . In effect - and I emphasise no disrespect to anyone - RESTREPO doesn't bring much new to the table and you're left with a feeling of having seen it all before
3 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
The tragedy of war.
ihrtfilms22 February 2011
Director Sebastian Junger spent over a year embedded with the Second Platoon, Battle company, 173rd Airborne Brigade, to them their full title, as they are posted to the Korangal Valley in Afghanistan. CNN declared the area the most dangerous place on the planet and the documentary highlights the dangers of the mission.

Filmed in Cinéma vérité style, there is little construct to the film as such as it follows the men as they head deeper into the valley and further into danger. Interspersed with the footage are talking heads with some of the troops recalling their time there. The Korangal is a a Taliban stronghold and the Brigade are under constant threat of attack, in fact the very opening scene shows them ambushed on the road. This constant fear of attack shows among the men during the talking heads, it is clear that the mission, one fraught with dangers has taken a heavy toll on the psyche's of these men, some of them incredibly young.

Several of the soldiers die, which also takes it's toll, especially later in the film when they delve deeper into the hills and are attacked unexpectedly, with one of their men down, there is a incomprehensible notion that you should grieve, yet you must continue to battle as the gunfire around you continues.

The film as been portrayed as a 'real life' The Hurt Locker', which seems a little unfair a comparison, both film portray different situations and to be honest I felt this was actually less engaging. With so many soldiers, it's difficult to know who is who during some footage and so it less compelling trying to work out who is who. There are however scenes of interest. The continual passion within to keep going these men have is incredible, even in the most dire of circumstances. Interactions with locals provide an insight of how difficult and how vastly different the cultures are, and there are scenes of camaraderie and fun among the men to try to make the best of what they have- dancing to pop songs and filming it.

Yet it also shows just what an alien world the armed forces are to many, it is a different world and it also suggests that many men there are there only because they no choice, a living with a guarantee wage and no guarantee of coming back alive or intact, physically or mentally. The talking head interviews provide a greater insight into those few that are interviewed; behind the stiff upper lip and possible reserve of what may be said on camera, there is pain behind the eyes of these men that no-one else will comprehend. It's this I found more interesting and it's a shame there wasn't a little more of it which would have made this more powerful.

More of my reviews at
6 out of 11 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
A rare inside look at the young soldiers task fighting in Afghanistan.
TxMike4 January 2011
Warning: Spoilers
We watched it on Netflix streaming video.

This documentary resides with an Army platoon for its 15 month assignment in the Korangal Valley, sometimes referred to as the most dangerous place on Earth. One of the young men we see in opening footage, traveling by train, is 'Doc' Restrepo. In early fighting in Afghanistan he is killed, and when the platoon moves into the valley to occupy a new outpost on a ridge, in his honor they name it 'Outpost Restrepo.' This is a worthwhile documentary, a rare glimpse into the lives of young men, many looking like mere boys, as they carry out their orders. Even the Capatain in command looks to be 25 or 26 years old, probably a recent graduate of West Point or a college ROTC program.

The video is realistic, the shooting is real, and when yet another friend gets killed in fighting some find it hard to keep their composure. It puts war into a personal perspective.

What struck me most, however, is the relative absurdity of American troops trying to discuss logic with the Afghanistan elders (non-Taliban) in their weekly meetings. The Captain wants to assure them that they will benefit when the road is built, when the Taliban are defeated. But the elders want to discuss why their cow was killed, and why apparently innocent citizens are sometimes killed.

Or the exchange with the young man, who with his father is a goat farmer, when asked in he had any information about the Taliban, "If we give you any information they will kill us." I believe the most difficult task for Americans trying to accomplish anything in foreign countries, like Iraq or Afghanistan, is the hurdle of trying to identify with what they think and believe, what their priorities are. Our troops just don't have a very good way of doing that, and this documentary shows that very clearly.
2 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
An error has occured. Please try again.

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews

Recently Viewed