As four young soldiers get ready to travel from their homes in Denmark to their assignment at Forward Operating Base Armadillo in Helmand Province, their feelings of excited anticipation clash with the fear their parents and girlfriends feel. Mads is ready to put his combat practice to the test; Daniel is a lively tattooed guy with boundless physical energy; Rasmus is the ambitious young platoon commander; and Kim is the group's no-nonsense medic.
Over the next six months, days of boredom are punctuated with sudden violent attacks from the Taliban and awkward conversations with locals caught in the crossfire.
Intriguingly for a documentary, the soldiers show no awareness of the cameras, which capture all of their movements intimately. It's impossible to tell how the filmmakers managed this; the camera is right on the fields with them, in the line of fire. So we see it all from their perspective, and we also see the instant reactions on their faces. In other words, it seems like these must be actors performing these roles in recreated scenarios. So since these are real people in real situations, we experience everything with them.
And as it progresses, we also get a fascinating exploration of the war mentality, from machismo and camaraderie to raw fear and the gnawing desire for more action. There's also a real sense that these guys are sensitive to the plight of the local population, who are forced at knifepoint to cooperate with the Taliban and don't like them any more than they like the invading Western military tramping through their fields and killing their cows. And children.
Yes, it's all pretty harrowing, and there's also a vivid look at how these young guys deal with the concern from their parents and girlfriends back home.
Fortunately, there are frequent moments of gallows humour and stress release through sport, music and porn. And the film's most telling segment involves a terrifying shootout followed by the adrenaline rush of survival, the reality of their injuries and then the moral questions about their actions.
Run time: 105 mins
In Theaters: Thursday 27th May 2010
Box Office USA: $10.3k
Distributed by: New Yorker
Production compaines: Fridthjof Film
Contactmusic.com: 4.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 92%
Fresh: 47 Rotten: 4
IMDB: 7.6 / 10
Director: Janus Metz
Producer: Ronnie Fridthjof, Sara Stockmann
Also starring: Joe