War movie poster

Writer-director Tobias Lindholm’s latest is a microcosmic and finely wrought war story in which everyone has their reasons. Danish company commander Claus M. Pederson (Pilou Asbæk, looking like a cross between Michael Shannon and Ewan McGregor and nailing the role’s measured intensity) starts leading his unit’s patrols through Helmand province more often than he maybe ought to, because he wants to keep them alive and functional. An Afghan family comes seeking aid because they love their injured daughter. The Taliban targets the family because they want the foreigners gone. Back home, Pederson’s wife wants her troubled son to have his father around. And the Danish government wants to make sure its soldiers don’t get away with murder. Events progress with what feels like clockwork inevitability, despite the clear moments of moral choosing — an impressive, if disheartening, combination. Also impressive: the film’s refusal to render judgment on what it so thoroughly depicts. Instead, it is content with a declaration: “This is war.” The rest is up to you. 2016.

Matthew Lickona

This movie is not currently in theaters.


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