Originally Reviewed – 9/16/2010
If the video game series Call of Duty has taught me anything, it?s that I would be a terrible soldier. Let?s just say, if I were in Saving Private Ryan, I?d be the dude getting blown away as soon as the doors opened on the Army ATV. Combat is definitely not for me and God bless anybody who engages in it for a living. Restrepo, a chronicle of one year in the lives of a platoon of US soldiers stationed in the most dangerous part of Afghanistan, did nothing to quell my fears. The film, bravely and empathetically done by Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger, is an intensely emotional documentary that not only puts you right in the middle of the fray but also places you deep into the psyches of the brave men who have to live with gunfire every single day.
Filmed over the course of one squadron?s tour of duty, Restrepo makes fictional war films seem almost boastful. The firefights are heart stopping in how close they get the viewer to the action; bullet casings bounce off the camera lens, dirt kicks up all around and there is a general sense of controlled confusion amongst the crew that?s honest and interesting. The film also does a fine job of getting us inside the heads of the soldiers engaged in these battles. Filmed after their tour of duty is completed, the uncensored accounts of these GIs really bring you inside the mental strain and anguish that comes with living in constant fear for your life. Filmed with no commentary aside from the accounts of the soldiers and the day to day dialogue of army life, Restrepo is one of the best documentaries of the year and should get a slam dunk Oscar nomination come February. Gritty, unyielding and brilliantly emotional, Restrepo forgoes all window dressing, be it in the filmmaking, the storytelling or the politics of warfare, and instead focuses on the stories of these brave soldiers with startling results. No matter where you stand politically on our current conflict in Afghanistan, Restrepo will make you put that aside and appreciate the people actually engaged in it.
Score – 100%