Kandahar

Review of Gerald Butler’s explosive Middle East action drama, ‘Kandahar’

July 11, 2023 Mario Bautista 398 views

Kandahar1

Kandahar2AFTER playing a pilot who battles terrorists in “Plane” (they’re already making the sequel entitled “Ship”), Gerard Butler now plays Tom Harris, an elite undercover agent working for the CIA in “Kandahar”, an action flick showing the consequence of the USA suddenly withdrawing from Afghanistan.

The opening sequence shows him pretending to be a communications field repairman who’s upgrading internet connections in Iran to speed up their wifi.

But the truth is he has inserted a malware into their Iranian underground research laboratory to blow it up. He does a good job as the entire facility is later shown exploding.

While on his way home to London to attend his teenage daughter’s graduation, he drops by Dubai and his CIA handler, Roman Chalmers (Travis Fimmel),offers him loads of cash for him to accept a new assignment to blow up another nuclear power plant in Afghanistan. He accepts it as one last job as he can use the money for his daughter’s college education.

While he’s in Herat, Afghanistan, things go south when the media leaks that Tom is the CIA operative who is guilty of destroying the nuclear lab in Iran. He now becomes a wanted man and he and his Afghan-American interpreter, Mohamad or Mo (Navid Negabhan), have to escape from the bad guys pursuing them across the desert.

Their goal is to get to Kandahar in Afghanistan, where a U.S. team’s airplane will help them escape back to America. Mo’s family lived in Baltimore. Tom and Mo are chased not only by the Iranians but also by a determined Pakistani agent, Kahil Nassir (Ali Fazal, “Victoria and Abdul”, “Death on the Nile”), who drives around the desert in a black motorcyle. He wants to get Tom alive and later sell him to the highest bidder.

The action sequences are uneven. A set piece shows Tom and Mo being attacked in the desert by a helicopter in the middle of the night. It is not that well executed because of the very dark scenes where you have to squint to figure out what exactly is happening on the big screen.

But the climactic showdown towards the end more than makes up for it when Tom and Mo are about to be cornered by their pursuers. It’s reminiscent of the similar climax of Guy Ritchie’s “The Covenant” which is also about rescue operations in the Middle East.

The script tries to inject some substance on the goings on that are marked with cultural, political and even religious complexity. It shows that the Middle East has many terrorists Taliban factions with differing goals, but they are quite united when it comes to their hostility to America which is perceived to have brought so much chaos to that region.

It likewise shows how multiple agencies from various parts of the globe can work together to accomplish a seemingly impossible mission.

The movie is directed by Ric Roman Waugh, who has previously directed Gerald in “Angel Has Fallen” (the third in the “Has Fallen” series starring Gerald as secret service agent Mike Banning) and “Greenland” (a little seen film about a comet that’s hitting the earth as it’s shown at the start of the pandemic in 2020.) In “Kandahar”, he not only comes up with the usual action movie but also one that attempts to inject some depth in portraying the sad situations in the Middle East.

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