Mission Kandahar

I haven’t kept up with Gerard Butler’s action vehicles since being disappointed by 2013’s Olympus Has Fallen.  A grudge hadn’t kept me away from Butler.  In fact, his action flicks have looked appealing by the promotional material as I find myself distracted with other titles.  After missing this year’s Plane, I didn’t want to miss the boat on his second outing of the year.  I sat down for Mission Kandahar with excitement running through my veins, but talk about a reunion gone wrong.

Mission Kandahar boils down to a chase movie that’s boring and often incomprehensible – through its writing and its visuals (the latter fleetingly inspired by night-vision combat and video games).  But what bothered me the most about Mission Kandahar was its representation of middle easterners.  If you don’t look like Gerard Butler’s Tom Harris in Mission Kandahar, you’re made to look: suspicious, intimidating, or dangerous – sometimes all three.  Even the desert scenery is photographed in such a drab and unflattering way;  making suggestive claims at how barren and decrepit the middle east is. 

On his latest mission, undercover CIA operative Harris is issued a translator, Mo (Navid Negahban), who becomes Harris’ ride-or-die partner as their stakes increase.  Having Mo become more of an important piece to the story is a good idea for the long run of the story, and Negahban holds his own well next to Butler’s commanding screen presence.  Unfortunately, Mo isn’t a well-written character, and is as thin as the one-dimensional task force hunting our leads.

Filmmaker Ric Roman Waugh (who directed Butler previously on Angel Has Fallen and Greenland) and screenwriter Mitchell LaFortune (cutting his teeth with this feature-length debut) go through the motions of a typical action flick.  This may wet the whistle of those looking for disposable entertainment (and those willing to overlook the glaring problematic cultural details), but I wanted Waugh and LaFortune to offer me so much more with Mission Kandahar. 


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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie

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