Monday, May 13, 2019

Tribeca with Abe: The Kill Team

I’ve had the pleasure this year of screening a number of selections from this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, which ran April 24th – May 5th.

The Kill Team
Directed by Dan Krauss
Spotlight Narrative

It’s an unfortunate reality that there are many unethical things done in war. Often, actions that would otherwise be deemed criminal are ignored or unreported in the midst of greater aims and a bigger picture. How those at war react to what they see happening around them can vary, and it takes a good deal of courage and resolve to be able to recognize that something is not right when everyone else is allowing it to happen, suggesting that a good deal of improper behavior goes undocumented and unresolved as a result.

In 2010, Private Andrew Briggman (Nat Wolff) heads to Afghanistan, eager to serve his country. When his commander is killed, his replacement arrives in the form of Sergeant Deeks (Alexander Skarsgard), who bucks traditional codes and inspires his soldiers with encouragement and a ferocious drive to succeed. Briggman catches his eye and enthusiastically maneuvers his way into a promotion, only to learn that the activities of his unit may not be entirely above-board. When he questions what he sees, he discovers that anyone who tries to make waves will face cruel consequences.

Writer-director Dan Krauss adapts his own 2013 documentary of the same name, turning his nonfiction investigation into onscreen drama. While there is nothing that particularly stands out as being necessary to see portrayed in a scripted format rather than recounted via testimonies and collected evidence, this presentation does offer a glimpse into how a group of people transplanted to a place where they have the power and can do whatever they deem appropriate can become extremely dangerous and wildly out of control.

Wolff delivers a strong performance as the ideal high achiever recruit, who has a clear sense of right and wrong and wants to use it to help the country he believes has done so much for him. Watching the disillusionment set in and be replaced by a fear that Briggman will be targeted for speaking out about what he sees happening is a compelling process made terrifyingly real by Wolff. Skarsgard, from “Big Little Lies” and “True Blood,” approaches the role of Deeks expertly, painting him as a clear leader equally capable of commanding respect and fear. This war film may not stand out among recent efforts such as “The Hurt Locker,” but its disturbing source material and its representation here are an important point of discussion made more visible by this showcase.


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