The Kill Team (2019)
Directed by: Dan Krauss | 87 minutes | action, drama | Actors: Nat Wolff, Alexander Skarsgård, Adam Long, Jonathan Whitesell, Brian Marc, Osy Ikhile, Rob Morrow, Anna Francolini, Elham Ehsas, Tunji Kasim, Zackary Momoh, Taz Yassin
One genesis is not the other. In 2013, director Dan Kraus made ‘The Kill Team’, a documentary about a platoon of American soldiers in Afghanistan. This platoon was guilty of murdering innocent civilians, falsifying evidence so as not to get caught. This all goes unpunished until group member Adam Winfield decides to report the abuses. From that moment on, his life is no longer certain.
Six years after the release of the documentary, Kraus decided to recreate a version of ‘The Kill Team’, this time as a fictional war drama. Adam Winfield is here called Andrew Brigman, a young soldier who is ready to travel to Afghanistan. We follow him on his first patrols and, together with Andrew, we meet the new platoon sergeant Deeks. We discover that Deeks is simultaneously creepy and charming, compassionate and unmerciful, group man and dictator. And together with Andrew we learn the price of putting justice over group interest.
We don’t know if the documentary is better than the drama. We do know that this version of ‘The Kill Team’ does a lot of things right. The film lacks the hysteria of many war films and alternates quiet scenes in the camp with slightly busier scenes on patrol. The few violent scenes are never over the top either. What the film also does well is avoiding black and white characters. Although Sergeant Deeks is not a pleasant character, we understand that he has seen too much war misery to function normally. With all the misery that entails. The music also fits well with the atmosphere and the actors do a great job.
What ‘The Kill Team’ does best is confront the viewer. In a film about impossible dilemmas, the viewer is confronted with just such an impossibility. We want Andrew to stay alive, but we know this can only happen if he participates in the murders. It makes this drama pleasantly uncomfortable, a feeling rarely encountered in the more average war film. The only thing you can blame this film for is that it doesn’t tell you anything new about the war, but rather sums up what we already know. That makes it very strong.