Kilo Two Bravo (originally released in UK as Kajaki) is a rare, incredibly well executed film about brotherhood, tenacity and grit. It’s a wrenchingly existential film, throwing the tropes of war films out the window and focussing instead on the small, often tragic decisions that define a group of men working to help one another out.
After a brief section where we see the effortless camaraderie of a group of British paratroopers nestled atop a hill in Afghanistan, the group seeks to find a new position to have a better line of sight on some combatant that may cause trouble. Following a goat trail down, they enter into an innocuous looking valley. From there, things go horribly wrong.
For a film that relies upon landmines, torn limbs, and buckets of blood, the true horror of the film lies in the interminable suspense, the waiting for rescue as hour after hour goes by with no help (or, worse, help that causes far more harm than good). It’s chaos writ large, communications frayed, batteries dead, limbs torn asunder.
Yet through the chaos, the unfairness of it all, the sordid and sickening wait, there’s a real sense of mission, a group just trying to get by moment to moment. People do dumb things for perfectly noble reasons, people avoid doing them for equally sane ones. It’s a mess, not the clean narrative of heroism that often gets told.
Kilo Two Bravo isn’t a war movie, it’s a movie about war, where the man there to rescue you in turn needs assistance, and where the danger happens in slow motion while the pain and suffering happens slowly indeed. Exquisitely realized in a form that almost feels like a play, this remains a deeply cinematic experience, the swirling sand and blazing heat palpable.
Bravo to Kilo Two Bravo for bringing this story to life without agenda or comment, simply showcasing the boots-on-the-ground verisimilitude of conflict, echoing how the canyons of this ancient country continue to maim with munitions from generations ago. A wonderful metaphor for both quagmire and courage, this is an astonishing work of both beauty and bravery.
Read our interview with star Mark Stanley and real-life counterpart Paul ‘Tug’ Hartley here.