Restrepo Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ March 21, 2013
War documentaries aren't all that new, since news reels have been played in the beginning of penny shows at the start of the twenties, but this is so obtuse and discomforting. It's of this time, it revolves around people that are close to our hearts, and more horrifying they have been there for a long time. Journalist Sebastian Junger and filmmaking partner Tim Hetherington spent years shadowing a platoon in the infamous Korengal Valley, one of the most dangerous places in any war zone. Surrounded by the enemy at all times, the men go through a spectrum of attacks and retribution just to seize this bit of territory from Al-Qaeda and the Taliban, and possibly kill the men who killed their own. Their squad leader, barely distinguishable from his young squadron, tries to find common ground with the local sages, but time and again cultural barriers turn the tides, including the death of a cow in their fencing. The platoon early on loses a medic named Restrepo, who they name their Observational Point after. Building the OP in itself is difficult thanks to the frequent firefights that come with the cursing of broken down soldiers. More than one time the soldiers are seen in the outpost firing at some unseen entity, cursing and cajoling their fellow soldiers into action. They do joke around quite a bit as well, and turn to one another for comfort through humor at the worst of times but most of the time it's all grief, travesty, and horror. At one point in the film a solider is cut down by gunfire and a fellow soldier cries out in horror for a long while as the others try to get him to keep fighting. Their leader bucks them up, and turns the unseen forces around them into an enemy based on the hatred the soldiers feel at losing their friends. It becomes an unending cycle, and by the end you're happy that they have gotten out, as unnerving and traumatic as it was for them. Very well put together, edited, and composed, this is a true look at the state of Afghanistan's relations with US soldiers and the situation there. This is more about relations than the horrors of war, which are all the more impactful thanks to soldier's interviews with the directors afterwards. It's just a riveting watch, for anyone out there limiting themselves on the debate of the war.
Super Reviewer
November 1, 2012
Restrepo is a visceral, powerful documentary on the war in Afghanistan, but I found it to be way over-hyped. It wasn't as powerful or as war-like as I expected it to be, but that put aside, I felt that the film did a good job of documenting the terror, and the camaraderie that these people felt. Beautifully shot, well edited, insightful and exciting, Restrepo is one of the better war documentaries.
Japes
Super Reviewer
December 16, 2011
This was an excellent documentary that gives an inside look at the war in Iraq.

This documentary has everything including the firefights of war, losing teammates, being away from family, etc. It gives a lot of good insight about what the soldiers do there, why they are there, and how dangerous it really is to be over in Iraq. This documentary was really scary and heartbreaking. The fallen teammates' stories were really sad and depressing. The fact that the soldiers saw their teammates die/get injured then were able to keep fighting really shows how strong they are. This documentary is a good tribute to Restrepo and I literally almost cried at the end. It was so sad. This documentary is by far the best I have ever seen. It's all true and it's right there in the action- in the most dangerous post in Afghanistan. This documentary does a fantastic job at showing the other side of the Iraqi war.
TheDudeLebowski65
Super Reviewer
½ September 2, 2011
Restrepo is a well made documentary about the last military outpost in the Korengal Valley. This outpost is surrounded by enemy Taliban Insurgents. The Korengal Valley was dubbed the dangerous posting of U.S Military. Restrepo is a very good insight into the combat environment of what these men go through. Throughout the course of the documentary, we see two of their own get KIA, and the cost on some soldiers. The documentary is well done, this is as close to combat as any civilian would like to get the film manages to capture the real essence of combat, and the camaraderie that develops between soldiers throughout the course of their deployment. The film manages to give the viewer the taste of a combat environment. You experience the hardships that the troops undergo as they fight in the most dangerous region of Afghanistan. This almost a perfect documentary film, but in the end it felt like watching any other documentary or TV show on the Military Channel or History Channel. For what its worth, Restrepo give you an in depth taste of combat. I thought that the filmmakers did a great job at capturing the feel of battle, but where the film failed slightly was showing the real toll on the soldiers' state of mind. Most of them didn't seem that distraught. Only a few showed emotion talking about their experience. Restrepo is still an interesting film that shows the chaos of warfare, but its nothing groundbreaking. I've seen similar stuff before.
Super Reviewer
June 22, 2011
As a message, 'Restrepo' does what it needs to do. As a film, it simply fails. This may be the closest a lot people can get to experiencing war, but its not enough. Throughout the story, something seems to not be in place. Maybe its the lack of story entirely. Whatever it is, Restrepo never makes up the ground for it.
MANUGINO
Super Reviewer
February 21, 2011
One platoon, one valley, one year

This was a very good documentary on war in Afghanistan, it's very real and humane which is exactly what you want from one. This documentary isn't different from what we know about the war but it's equally important to see what goes on there. I was eager to know why the film was named 'Restrepo' and now I know, if you wanna know you better see it... I'm just kidding i'm gonna tell you. The movie's title comes from Private First Class Juan "Doc" Restrepo, whose memory is also honored in the company's isolated base camp, OP Restrepo.

Sebastian Junger and Tim Hetherington's year dug in with the Second Platoon in one of Afghanistan's most strategically crucial valleys reveals extraordinary insight into the surreal combination of back breaking labor, deadly firefights, and camaraderie as the soldiers painfully push back the Taliban.
Super Reviewer
½ March 17, 2011
Want to know what it's like to be embedded in the most dangerous place on earth? Restrepo will show you what it's like and what it does to you.
RIP Tim Hetherington
rubystevens
Super Reviewer
September 14, 2010
an embedded doc about a year in the life of a platoon stationed at the furthest outpost of the korangol valley, afghanistan, considered the most dangerous post in the world, where they literally come under fire every single day. it's a wild and beautiful country, known as the graveyard of empires, that hasn't changed much in a thousand years. the battle for 'hearts and minds' is conducted at weekly shura councils, where our troops try to maintain a working relationship with local elders. it's rough going at best. no film can truly give the experience of being in a war zone but this is certainly an impressive attempt. ultimately the seeming futility is maddening

edit 4/20/2011: tim hetherington, british photojournalist and filmmaker, was killed today in libya. he was 41. rip.
LorenzoVonMatterhorn
Super Reviewer
April 11, 2011
"One platoon, one valley, one year"

A year with one platoon in the deadliest valley in Afghanistan.

REVIEW
Filmmakers Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger take their cameras into the trenches for a "day in the life" look at what it's like to fight in the Korengal Valley, Afghanistan, nicknamed the most dangerous place on earth.

There, a platoon of battle-weary men fight the Taliban, an elusive spectre of an enemy that they rarely actually see. They seem to have little interest in what they're doing or why they're doing it; they only come alive immediately after a fire-fight (of which they have at least 3 or 4 a day), when the adrenaline of battle gives them a natural high. The rest of the time they spend going about their more mundane duties, feeling at all times like fish in a barrel.

Late into the film, one of their men is killed in a battle that pretty much all of them agree was one of their worst moments during the whole period. Other men had been killed, but this seems to be one of the first that the men actually see die before their eyes. It has a devastating effect -- they collapse into sobs and turn instantly from fighting men into small boys, and our hearts go out to them with compassion and the frustrated regret that they have to live like this while the rest of us go about our cushy existence.

"Restrepo" confirms what a lot of fictional accounts of the War on Terror (or whatever it is we're calling it now) have suggested: the feelings of determination and vengeance that got us into all of these messy military conflicts have long since given way to depressed resignation. No one is really sure what we're doing anymore, these soldiers least of all, and watching "Restrepo" didn't feel much different from watching a documentary about Vietnam.
Super Reviewer
February 18, 2011
Catching up on the Oscar-nominated documentaries--this one was surprisingly good. I typically have no patience when watching war documentaries (hard for me to empathize). But this one was heartfelt and poignant without being (too) patronizing or (blatantly) constructed to emotionally manipulate the viewer (for the most part).
hunterjt13
Super Reviewer
February 9, 2011
This documentary's main achievement is its degree of "imbeddedness." Some of the shots that these filmmakers were able to get, under the harshest, most dangerous conditions, are absolutely incredible. We get to see soldiers taking and returning fire, and the action is so close, so compelling that I almost expected a bullet to shatter the camera at any moment. Such scenes, truer than life, create a suspense that no action movie can imitate.
The DVD cover contextualizes Restrepo "coming after The Hurt Locker," and this an apt comparison. Both films attempt to be apolitical (though it may be my liberal sensibilities that make me see both films as anti-war), and both films deal with the intense personal damage inflicted by armed conflict. These films present a little realized truth, one that Chris Hedges, whose quote serves as an epigraph for The Hurt Locker, so eloquently describes in War Is a Force that Gives Us Meaning. Namely, combat veterans become addicted to war, and this drug wreaks as much havoc as any chemical.
Overall, though some documentaries are able to mold the subject matter into a coherent storyline, Restrepo presents soldier life in all its ugliness and glory, and what we come away with is the stark realization that both responses - ugliness and glory - can actually occur in the same moment.
Super Reviewer
January 29, 2011
It's war. It's not Entertaining and I wouldn't recommend it to many people, but for those who can handle this subject matter, RESTREPO is a harrowing, haunting, and brilliant document.
stevenecarrier
Super Reviewer
½ January 26, 2011
"Restrepo" may be important to some for it's unprecedented footage of the everyday existence of a solider in the Iraq War, but as a documentary it really isn't saying anything that we haven't heard before. Also, for some reason, I never really felt the danger of being in this most dangerous of places. There was just something missing for me. A gritty document of what it is like over there, but as for a statement on the war itself or the men fighting it, it says almost next to nothing.
Super Reviewer
January 12, 2011
Intense documentary that offers a glimpse into the lives of soldiers over in afganistan. Slow at times,but very interesting and gives a new appreciation for the soldiers serving our country.
gor41
Super Reviewer
December 12, 2010
Corsucating glimpse into a devastating world few of us could deal with. This gripping doc ably portrays the psychological pressure of being shot at 'who knows when' by unseen 'ghosts' in an extreme outpost in Afghanistan. The real 'Hurt Locker'.
flixsterman
Super Reviewer
May 28, 2010
Combat and valor from the inside out. Documentary film maker Tim Hetherington embeds himself within an American army battle company as they fight through a 15 month deployment in Afghanistan's deadliest valley. An eye opening film that highlights the courage and humanity of those who fight and (sometimes) die.
366weirdmovies
Super Reviewer
½ September 14, 2010
A mosaic of combat and camaraderie as the camera follows the members of an army company as they complete a 15 month tour in Korangal Valley, considered the most deadly post in the Afghanistan theater. "Restrepo" refers to a fallen comrade and the outpost they build in his honor. Objective and apolitical, frightening, heartbreaking: this is an impressive work of photojournalism, and the odds on favorite to win the 2010 Academy Award for Best Documentary.
Super Reviewer
August 26, 2010
Dan Kearney: The deadliest place on earth, the Korangal valley

It's seemingly tough to get a solid film about the war in the middle east out there, but more and more are being made, and this is certainly one of the more successful ones. Stemming from an assignment for Vanity Fair, journalist and photographers Sebastian Junger and Tim Hetherington's spent a year dug in with the Second Platoon in one of Afghanistan's most strategically crucial valleys. The footage captured reveals great insight into the surreal combination of back breaking labor, deadly firefights, and camaraderie as the soldiers work to push back the Taliban and keep the locals at bay.

This film manages to combine both the tense atmosphere of warfare with the sometimes tedious nature of the situation. For all the firefights these boys go through, we also see them dealing with their down time and handling the locals in the area. It's an interesting mix, but never sets the film off balance, as I was constantly into seeing the proceedings of the platoons involved.

These men truly had it tough, as there are pretty much firefights everyday, with attacks coming at different directions and always surprising. The opening sequence of this doc certainly puts you into the world these soldiers are a part of, with an attack literally springing on the men as they travel along in a vehicle. It's exciting stuff, as we see the men guide the camera men to safety, then view from his perspective as the soldiers try to figure out their situation.

You also have the scenes involving the soldiers dealing with the locals. Seeing the weekly meetings with the very old villagers, watching the platoon trying to help them understand what will be happening in the area, and listening to a specific instance where the soldiers must deal with the repercussions of putting a cow out of it's misery all function to once again provide us with perspective on the situation that the platoons are in here.

Kyle M. Steiner: It takes a lot out of you, once you see one of your boys get hurt.

The film really does become strong once it deals with the men who are wounded or killed in action, and seeing these soldiers deal with those crisis. The title of the film, Restrepo, is actually the name of one of the soldier's who was killed in action during the filming of these events. Restrepo would then become the name of the operation post setup in the valley, which would make a difference in defending the area and pushing back the enemy.

All of this is made more powerful due to the way this documentary was assembled. Put together from a year's worth of footage, this feature runs for just over 90 minutes, but doesn't try to hash out a major narrative. It gives you enough of the year to send across an idea of what it was like for these men, but doesn't every take any sort of stance politically or otherwise. There is no narration, instead relying on debriefings from soldiers following their tour in Afghanistan. These debriefings are well handled, shot with the camera directly on them, having the men respond truthfully, which is very understated, therefore portraying a lot of real emotion as they gather their thoughts.

I found the portrayal of this particular platoon and the year they had to spend in a very deadly area to be quite fascinating. The fly-on-the-wall approach to the documentary filmmaking was effective. I appreciated the lack of any sort of politics being inserted into the feature. And hearing and seeing the soldiers reflect on the situation they found themselves in was handled very well. This was a very solid doc, that puts you right into fray and manages to inform and keep one interested.

Dan Kearney: You think, if they got our best guy, where does that leave me? What does that say about me?
sanjurosamurai
Super Reviewer
August 9, 2010
stellar through and through. one of the best documentaries ive seen, and one of the better war films to be released in a few years. what better way to portray war in film then to take cameras to the most dangerous place on earth and just show it to us. the filmmakers stayed out of the way and let the soldiers tell the story, and because of this, there was no bias or political slant whatsoever. at moments, the anti-war sentiment would creep in and i would feel for these men. at other moments, i believed in what they were trying to accomplish and was glad that they were there doing what they were doing. the film pulled the emotions, but in a good way, and i left the film feeling like i knew quite a bit more about what it was like for these men out there. a stunning film.
Super Reviewer
½ July 26, 2010
the absolute opposite of "escapist" entertainment, this visit to beautiful downtown afghanistan, conducted and hosted by our very own boys, boys playing at war with live ammo and only acting like men but trying really, really hard, but still mere children really ... gut-wrenching and very hard to watch.
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