Restrepo is a National Geographic docudrama which follows the 15-month deployment of a platoon in the most dangerous posting in the U.S. military — the Korangal Valley, Afghanistan. Known for its relentless assaults and being under fire every day, the outpost’s main goal is to win the hearts and minds of the local populace to generate support for a main highway through the heart of the valley. The highway would link two major populace centers but this film shows much more than simple negotiation with military platitudes.
The heart and soul of this picture is the daily toll placed on these young men as they strive to live in some of the harshest conditions in modern combat. We watch as they are repeatedly ambushed, assaulted, and bullied until the commanding officer has enough. In the dead of night, he orders a small squad of men to create a observation post on the very summit the locals are using as a vantage point for sniper fire. Once established, the story continues with intense combat sequences, the never ending labor to improve fortification, and the camaraderie of soldiers under fire. This picture is a testament to enduring spirit and the sometimes heart-wrenching pain suffered by those in harm’s way. The platoon has just one goal: survive the deployment and return home.
I personally found this picture inspiring, tragic, powerful, and thought-provoking. Because of the distance and gap between the U.S. and the war, one sometimes forgets the real pain these men and women endure. Though this isn’t a multiple viewing kind of film, Restrepo should be watched at least once. Let’s not forget those veterans.