Movie Review: ‘Kandahar’

John Thomas

Tom Harris (Gerard Butler) is not really working in Iran as a field technician for a Belgian communications company. He’s actually a freelance undercover operative under contract to the CIA and is in Iran to disrupt/dismantle their nuclear program. One of his many skills is manipulating internet communications.

He and a colleague are at the site of a gigantic nuclear facility to plant malware going into it. Tom’s supervisors in DC have been watching his progress via satellite and high-altitude drones and cheer when they see the facility explode into a massive cloud of flame and smoke. Tom has succeeded, it’s time for him to return home. His flight to London is via Dubai.

During his brief layover he reads his ongoing flight has been delayed. To make best use of his extended stay, he decides to pay a visit to his CIA handler Roman Chalmers (Travis Fimmel), who lives in Dubai.

Tom is happy to see Roman again until Roman mentions that he had Tom’s flight delayed as he has a new assignment for Tom in Herat, Afghanistan. Tom wants to return home, but after hearing the lucrative offer, changes his mind. Because of the sensitive nature of the mission Roman provides him with a much-needed translator, “Mo” Doud (Navid Negahban), an Afghani-American.

Once in Herat, Tom’s mission is aborted when the international news media names Tom, with his photo, as the person responsible for the bombing of the nuclear facility in Iran. He is a wanted man and wanted by more than one organization. Mo is also wanted in Afghanistan for being a traitor to his country.

Roman has arranged for the two men to be flown home from an extraction point in Kandahar, Afghanistan. Being aware that the two men are hiding out in Herat, the Iranian and Pakistani security forces send men to apprehend them – dead or alive for ransom. Pakistan sends their most deadly agent, Kahului Nasin (Ali Fazal), to capture Tom.

The route Tom and Mo take is monitored by the CIA. The director and his staff are concerned for the safety of the two men but have been ordered not to intervene in any way. The US does not want to appear involved with the mission.

Tom and Mo are later found by the Iranian drones and soon after, they are attacked by a helicopter attempting to stop them. Tom knows how to counterattack and the helicopter soon crashes into a ball of flames. In the process, Tom and Mo lose their transportation so now must continue their journey on foot. Viewing the progress of his two operatives, Roman ceases contact with the CIA and drives to help his friends.

Within sight of the gates to the extraction point at a neutral airfield and the plane waiting to take them to freedom, they see a motorcyclist rapidly approaching – Kakil is moments away. Acknowledging their dire straits one of the three men decides to make a sacrifice so the remaining two can make their escape. Gasping at the scene developing before them, the CIA director decides to ignore the rules and intervene on his operative’s behalf.

Directed by Ric Roman Waugh (Credits: Angel Has Fallen, Greenland), “Kandahar” runs 120 minutes and is a “should see” for a tense action packed thriller beautifully filmed in an austere desert landscape.

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