Plot: What’s it about?
As of this writing, it’s been just a shade over 15 years since the world was introduced to the movie 300. The film, a stylized re-creation of the battle at Thermopylae in 480 B.C. Gerard Butler played the titular role a King Leonidas. The movie was a great success and launched Butler into the spotlight. From there, Butler had a series of different roles going the romantic comedy route with roles in The Ugly Truth, P.S. I Love You and The Bounty Hunter. Action/Adventure films followed with his best-known role in the “…Has Fallen” films (Olympus Has Fallen and London Has Fallen) and even films that took a more surreal turn like Chasing Mavericks and Greenland. Suffice it to say that he’s run the gamut with his roles, though lately he’s gone the “Liam Neeson” route with roles as “tough guys” in films like Copshop and Plane. Coasting on the success of his latest endeavors, we now have Kandahar – a film about a CIA operative and his translator who flee from special forces in Afghanistan after a cover mission is exposed. Is it more of the same, or has Butler found new life with this genre?
Tom Harris (Gerard Butler) is an undercover CIA operative working inside Iran. He poses as an internet tech, though he manages to rig a nuclear facility to explode. His new assignment is in Afghanistan where he hires an interpreter named Mohammad (Navid Negahban) to help traverse the unfamiliar country. No sooner does he get on his way than his cover is exposed requiring him to make his way through hostile territory. His goal is to reach the extraction point in, you guessed it, Kandahar. He and Mohammad have an uphill battle to get there.
There was a lot of potential for Kandahar, but unfortunately a lot of it’s wasted on pointless backstories and focusing on the wrong elements of the plot. Simply put, the movie devolves into a routine chase movie where we know the title character will make it out alive. I suppose there’s nothing too terribly wrong with that, though I felt that by focusing on some of the more psychological elements, the film could have packed more of a punch. Butler is fine in his role, he’s been a working actor for over two decades so there’s no wasted talent, but I just felt that there was something missing. There are some moments in the film that really work, but by and large I found this another something bland and predictable picture.
Video: How’s it look?
Not to stereotype, but by and large every movie that takes place in the middle east will have a certain look to it. Kandahar is certainly no exception with its earthy-toned look to re-create what it must be like walking around in the desert. The 2.39:1 AVC HD encode is spot on, though, as we might expect. Images are clear and crisp and tack sharp. There’s a bit of a “burn” with some of the darker scenes that aren’t bad, but just a bit overexposed. By and large, any film that’s new to Blu-ray these days has a certain precedent associated with it, and this one does deliver but falls just short of perfection.
Audio: How’s it sound?
The included DTS HD Master Audio track has several moments to shine. Be it bombs exploding, bullets whizzing by or the crowded streets of local towns. Vocals are sharp and centered as well, with Butler’s grizzly voice leading the way. Directional effects are used fairly often and the LFE get their fair share of use, so fear not – your subwoofer will earn its keep with this one. All in all, it’s a satisfying mix that’s sure to please any audiophile out there.
Supplements: What are the extras?
Here’s hoping you like the film, because this disc is void of any supplemental material.
The Bottom Line
File this in the “what could have been” category. Butler does a fine, if not by-the-book performance that he’s done in countless other films. While I’m sure this film has an audience, I kept checking my watch to see how much time was left. Universal’s disc delivers an excellent picture, top notch sound but zero supplements. If you do decide to pick this one up, it’s for the true fans – otherwise give it a rental at best.