The Outpost (2020 film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Rod Lurie|
|Based on||The Outpost: An Untold Story of American Valor|
by Jake Tapper
|Music by||Larry Groupé|
|Edited by||Michael J. Duthie|
|Distributed by||Screen Media Films|
The Outpost is a 2020 American war drama film directed by Rod Lurie, based on a 2012 non-fiction book, The Outpost: An Untold Story of American Valor by Jake Tapper about the Battle of Kamdesh. It stars Orlando Bloom, Scott Eastwood, Caleb Landry Jones, Milo Gibson, and Jack Kesy.
The film was scheduled to premiere at the 2020 South by Southwest Film Festival, but the festival was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It was released via video on demand, as well as in selected theaters, on July 3, 2020. The film received positive reviews from critics, with praise for the battle sequences and respectful depiction of the soldiers.
The film tells the story of the 53 U.S. soldiers and two Latvian military advisors who battled a force of some 400 enemy insurgents in north-eastern Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom. Originally built to engage the locals in community development projects, Combat Outpost Keating — located at the bottom of three steep mountains just 14 miles from the Pakistani border — faced a constant threat of being attacked by the Taliban, putting the U.S. soldiers stationed there at significant risk. When the Taliban heard of US military officials intentions to close the outpost, they decided to make a statement.
The film story is based on the bravery of a small unit of U.S. soldiers, alone at the remote Combat Outpost Keating. The Battle of Kamdesh, as it was known, was the bloodiest American engagement of the Afghan War in 2009 and Bravo Troop 3-61 CAV became one of the most decorated units of the 19-year conflict.
It was located deep in the valley of three mountains in Afghanistan, battles to defend against an overwhelming force of Taliban fighters in a coordinated attack.
- Orlando Bloom as Captain Benjamin D. Keating
- Scott Eastwood as Staff Sergeant Clint Romesha
- Caleb Landry Jones as Specialist Ty Michael Carter
- Milo Gibson as Captain Robert Yllescas
- Jack Kesy as Sgt. Josh Kirk
- Will Attenborough as Ed Faulkner
- Taylor John Smith as First Lt Andrew Bundermann
- Cory Hardrict as Sgt. Vernon Martin
- Celina Sinden as Cpt. Katie Kopp
- Trey Tucker  as Captain Stoney Portis
- James Jagger as Chris Jones
- Alfie Stewart as Pfc. Zorias Yunger
- Marin Rangelov as Nasir
- Jack Kalian as Ssg. Shane Courville
- Ernest Cavazos as Sgt. Armando Avalos
- Jacob Scipio as Staff Sgt. Justin T. Gallegos
- Jonathan Yunger as SFC Jonathan Hill
- Kwame Patterson as Sylvanius Broward
- Jeremy Ang Jones as PFC. Jordan Wong
- Aleksandar Aleksiev as Latvian Army Sgt. Jānis Laķis
- Jack DeVos as Sgt. Joshua Hardt
After acquiring the rights to Jake Tapper's book, screenwriters Paul Tamasy and Eric Johnson, as well as producer Scott Stuber, originally had a deal in place with Universal Pictures to produce the film, with Sam Raimi slated to direct. After the plan with Universal and Raimi fell through, producer Paul Merryman then hired Rod Lurie, a former West Point graduate-turned-film critic and director, to helm the project. The film was officially announced alongside the casting of Eastwood and Bloom in May 2018, and in August Milo Gibson joined the cast.
Because Clint Romesha had written a book on the conflict that had in-turn been optioned by Sony Pictures, the producers rushed to get The Outpost made, and contact between Romesha and Eastwood (who depicts him in the film) was limited after a legal letter from the studio. Three weeks before filming was set to begin, Eastwood broke his ankle, causing a two-week delay, rewrites, and re-choreographing of the fight sequences. Filming took place mostly in Bulgaria, wrapping in mid-October 2018.
In October 2019, a rough edit of The Outpost was screened for the depicted soldiers and their families in Washington, D.C., which Stoney Portis, who was the commander of the unit at the time, called "part of the healing." The film was then scheduled to premiere on March 14, 2020 at the South by Southwest Film Festival. However, the festival was cancelled due to COVID-19 pandemic.
In April 2020, Screen Media Films acquired distribution rights to the film. It was released via video on demand and in selected theaters on July 3, 2020. Fathom Events originally planned on releasing the film on 500 screens theatrically from July 2-5, however due to the pandemic the plans were scrapped; it did still release in 69 theaters. It made $14,182 in its debut weekend.
In its debut weekend, The Outpost was the top-rented film on the iTunes Store and FandangoNow, and reportedly was the best debut in Screen Media's history. It remained the number one film on iTunes in its second weekend, as well as on AppleTV, while finishing second at FandangoNow and on Spectrum's weekly chart. The film continued to do well in its third week of release, finishing first at Apple TV and Spectrum and second on FandangoNow. It remained in the top six across all services in the subsequent weeks.
On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 93% based on 80 reviews, with an average rating of 7.82/10. The site's critics consensus reads: "Told with gripping realism, The Outpost is a thrilling technical feat and a worthy tribute to military heroes." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 71 out of 100, based on 18 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
Peter Debruge, in his review for Variety, called the film a "harrowing immersive account" of the battle and wrote: "The Outpost isn't glamorous, but it's respectful of the sacrifice and split-second decision-making that Bravo Troop faced, amplifying the terror of such an impossible assignment by attempting to mirror the characters' point of view." David Ehrlich of IndieWire gave the film a "B" and called it "familiar but uncommonly visceral", writing that "Lurie does a strong job of threading the needle between excitement and calamity; shooting much of the 45-minute long ambush in hectic, agile long-takes allows him to capture the Battle of Kamdesh for all of its terror, and with a clarity that allows us to feel that terror in our bones."
The film was praised by veterans, including those who fought in the battle, for its realistic depiction of warfare, everyday soldier life, and the looks of the base.
- Ty Carter
- Clinton Romesha
- Battle of Kamdesh
- Combat Outpost Keating
- List of post-Vietnam War Medal of Honor recipients
- List of living Medal of Honor recipients
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- Portis, Stoney (July 3, 2020). "I Watched My War Story Become a Movie". New York Times. Retrieved July 9, 2020.