8/10 Not even two full months after the delayed release of Guy Ritchie’s “Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre”, Ritchie is back with “The Covenant”, an excellent film that is uplifting but simultaneously reminds us of the absolutely botched withdrawal from Afghanistan by US forces by the failed Biden administration and the deadly real world consequences that have resulted from it. “The Covenant” tells the story of a local interpreter Ahmed (Dar Salim) who risks his life to carry an injured US Army Sergeant John Kinley (Jake Gyllenhaal) across miles of grueling, Afghan terrain and Sgt. Kinley’s mission to get Ahmed and his family legal Visas/passports so they can relocate to America. While this specific story is not a true one, the film is inspired by all of the Afghan interpreters who worked with the US throughout 20 years of our Afghanistan campaign following 9/11 and how the Biden administration not only abandoned thousands of people overseas upon withdrawing but how hundreds of the men and women who helped us were murdered as the Taliban retook the country within a single month after 20 years of fighting. While this film takes a more positive ending with this particular story, such is not the case for those hundreds slaughtered as a result of our embarrassing pull out where we left billions of dollars in weapons and equipment to our enemies and evacuated military personnel before we got our allies to safety in the worst US military disaster since Vietnam. As women are now suffering under Sharia Law, no longer allowed to drive cars, receive an education or have basic human rights, all we can do is shake our heads at how 20 years of death and destruction ultimately ended in vain for so many. The acting here is fantastic and while we all know Gyllenhaal is tremendously talented, it was the unknown Salim who stood out for me as a man who would do anything to protect his remaining family against the terrors of the Taliban. Ritchie provides strong direction and it was nice to see him change things up from his usual colorful, bickering, cheeky characters with a far more serious look at the brotherhood and comradery associated with the military and men putting their lives at risk for one another. The emotional content is strong as the film provides a realistic look at life overseas, the struggles of being away from family for extended periods of time, the complete and total incompetence of the US government and the Veteran’s Administration, etc. As a Marine myself, there is a scene where Sgt. Kinley is drunk and yelling at a VA worker on the phone since he has been able to get nowhere with the VA and is constantly getting put on hold for hours at a time and I personally found the scene to be completely relatable, unfortunately. The film is incredibly well paced for its two hour running time and while filmed in Spain, the production and costume designers did a fantastic job of recreating Afghanistan for the film. As for what doesn’t work, Sgt. Kinley’s wife Caroline (Emily Beecham) and their children feel a bit more like emotional pawns than fully fleshed out characters. Some men die near the beginning of the film but since we don’t get to spend more than a few minutes with them, their deaths are not nearly as emotional as they should be. Finally, the coincidental timing/ex machina near the end of the film felt very convenient and slightly predictable. That being said, the dedicated cast, strong score, entertaining action, high stakes, realism, terrific pacing and real world inspirations behind the film certainly make this a film worth watching and a stark reminder that incompetent Presidents/administrations/military officials have real world consequences that can end thousands of people’s lives just for pointless, political purposes.

#GyllenhaaledAcrossTheDesert / #RugsDrugsAndMultipleSmokingBarrels / #OperationMisfortune / #BrokeFlakMountain / #OutsiderManFarFromHome / #AfghanistandOff

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