In the high-octane world of action cinema, Kandahar, released in May 2023 on Amazon Prime Video, arrives with the promise of unrelenting thrills.
Directed by Ric Roman Waugh and penned by Mitchell LaFortune, the film boasts a powerful lead performance by Gerard Butler, who not only stars but also serves as a producer.
The movie is further bolstered by a supporting cast that includes Ali Fazal, Navid Negahban, Bahador Foladi and Nina Toussaint-White.
While it has garnered a spectrum of opinions from critics, ranging from praise to indifference, Kandahar aims to be a blockbuster that engages your senses, if not always your intellect.
What Is Kandahar About?
Honestly, part of my job is giving you the low down on a film so that you can decide for yourself if it's worth watching. And while I never want to give a plot away, it's almost impossible not to do so with this review of Kandahar.
It goes like this… Butler plays Tom Harris, ex-British military who is now a freelance undercover CIA operative. Based in Iran, his job is to basically blow things up and leave without a trace.
So far, so good. Nuclear power plant destroyed, Harris is on his way back home to the UK for his daughter's graduation when he gets the call for one last covert mission by his CIA handler, Roman Chalmers (Travis Fimmel).
That's when everything goes wrong. Harris's cover is blown, his face is all over tv and everybody is trying to be the first to catch him.
Now he faces the challenge of getting from Herat in Afghanistan to Kandahar – the nearest extraction point where he can be picked up and whisked to safety.
That's it. Almost the entire movie is about the journey to Kandahar alongside his Afghan translator Mo Doud (Navid Negahban).
Sure, there's the odd dash of social commentary about the ravages and effects of war. Seemingly very important characters that you've never seen before pop up in the most convenient of places and some attempt to inject a bit of family emotional drama is thrown in to justify Harris's desperation.
But really, Kandahar is about a 400-mile journey across hostile territory while trying to outrun the bad guys. Make of that what you will.
Kandahar Official Trailer
Is Kandahar Worth Watching?
I love an action movie as much as the next person but I have one stipulation. Either make it an all-out action fest that is so good that the plot is secondary OR make sure the plot is really solid if the action leaves a little to be desired.
It's one or the other. And sadly, Kandahar delivers neither.
The central plot is thin on the ground. Simply trying to get from point A to point B is not enough to keep even the most easily pleased viewers happy. Even if they did throw in some interesting takes on the Pakistan-Iran political relationship, it simply wasn't enough.
I would also add that quite a few of the characters, who seemingly play a very important role in getting Harris rescued, appear on screen for little more than a few minutes, leaving you wondering who on earth they are.
And as far as the action goes, there are one or two decent car chases, a few explosions, a nighttime gunfire scene (very difficult to decipher because of, you know, the pitch darkness) and a half-decent final shoot-out.
Definitely not enough for hardcore action fans. In fact, overall Kandahar (2023) just falls flat and is hardly worth watching at all.
Kandahar Movie Cast
Gerard Butler (Geostorm) as Tom Harris
Ali Fazal as Kahil Nasir, ISI agent
Navid Negahban as Mohammad “Mo” Doud
Bahador Foladi as Farzad Asadi
Nina Toussaint-White as Luna Cujai, a journalist trying to expose the American role in Iran
Vassilis Koukalani as Bashar
Mark Arnold as Mark Lowe
Tom Rhys Harries as Oliver Altman
Corey Johnson as Chris Hoyt
Travis Fimmel as Roman Chalmers
Olivia-Mai Barrett as Ida Harris, Tom's daughter
Rebecca Calder as Corrine Harris, Tom's wife
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