Kandahar (2023) Review

By Allison Rose   X Formly Known as Twitter
3 Min Read

In case we should ever forget, Kandahar is here to remind us of how dangerous that part of the world can be.

For twenty years the War in Afghanistan waged as the International Military Coalition, led by United States Military Forces, searched and captured members of the Taliban in an attempt to stabilize the region. Then, in 2021, troops were withdrawn and the War was declared to be over.  However, there are some governments that still monitor the area, mainly covertly.  These governments embed operatives, posing as civilian workers, in areas where uniformed troops would be killed on sight.  These operatives and their interpreters are often regarded suspiciously and, if caught as spies, they are murdered.  Kandahar, the new movie from Open Road Films offers a glimpse of what life is like for those operatives.

Tom Harris (Gerard Butler; Copshop) is a CIA agent working in the Middle East.  After he and his team destroy an underground nuclear facility, he plans to fly home for his daughter's high school graduation.  That plan changes when Tom receives a call from his friend asking for Tom's help on another mission.  Reluctantly, Tom agrees and meets up with his interpreter (Navid Negahban; Aladdin), who is in the country for his own secret reasons. While on the mission, CIA documents get leaked revealing that Tom is a wanted man.  Tom and the interpreter end up traveling incognito to the extraction point while being chased by the Taliban and Afghan soldiers.

Butler is in his element portraying a spy who uses his brain as much as he uses his brawn.  His acting is fine and his action sequences are well done.  Negahban is a solid match for Butler, as he plays an intelligent man who can use a gun/violence when the situation calls for it. Most of the supporting cast is ok with the exception of Travis Fimmel (Vikings) whose short time on screen is memorable, not because he is a better actor than others, but because he possesses that intangible "it" factor that has one gravitating to him.

Writer Mitchell LaFortune does an adequate job with the plot and dialogue, though some will find the baseline familiar if they have seen April's release of Guy Ritchie's The Covenant.  While the stories have some similarities, they end up being entirely different with the latter coming off as more urgent and intense.  Even with that being said, the plot is merely a vehicle to justify blowing stuff up while shooting at each other or beating one another up.

Director Ric Roman Waugh has a long-standing working relationship with Butler since he directed the actor previously in Greenland and Angel Has Fallen.  Waugh uses a keen eye, offering the audience visuals that are intriguing, seemingly realistic, and stark all at the same time. The combination is as enveloping as it is eclectic and Waugh uses those moments to offer a juxtaposition between the people of Afghanistan and the barren land they live on. 

If you are looking for a spy, action, or thriller then Kandahar is right up your alley.  It will get your adrenaline pumping and keep you on the end of your seat for much of the film.  

Kandahar gives the viewer a bird's eye view of the danger these "spies" and those associated with them are in and what it takes to live in that part of the world.  However, it also is unoriginal and isn't all that memorable (neither is the aforementioned Guy Ritchie version).  

In case we should ever forget, Kandahar is here to remind us of how dangerous that part of the world can be. The War in Afghanistan may be over but the region is still extremely hostile, especially towards Westerners.

Grade: C-

Directed By:
MPAA Rating: R
Running Time: 120 minutes
Distributed By: Open Road Films

Stream from Amazon Prime
Purchase Kandahar from the iTunes store.

For more information about Kandahar visit the FlickDirect Movie Database. For more reviews by Allison Rose please click here.

Kandahar images are courtesy of Open Road Films. All Rights Reserved.

FlickDirect, Allison   Rose

Allison Rose, a Senior Correspondent and Critic at FlickDirect, is a dynamic presence in the entertainment industry with a communications degree from Hofstra University. She brings her film expertise to KRMS News/Talk 97.5 FM and broadcast television, and is recognized as a Tomatometer-Approved Critic. Her role as an adept event moderator in various entertainment industry forums underscores her versatility. Her affiliations with SEFCA, the Florida Film Critics Circle, and the Online Film Critics Society highlight her as an influential figure in film criticism and media.


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