Kajaki: Kilo Two Bravo | Movie Review

KAJAKI: KILO TWO BRAVO or KILO TWO BRAVO (in the U.S.) or KAJAKI: THE TRUE STORY (in the UK) is one of the most underrated war movies of all time, an English on-the-edge-of-your-seat war thriller that is both gruesome and poignant, starring hardly anyone you will know with abundant heroes but no hero moments (that we are accustomed to from American war movies). The movie is based on the true story of Mark Wright and a small unit of British soldiers positioned near the Kajaki dam, in Afghanistan. It released in the UK in late 2014 and then in the U.S., Canada and Russia in 2015 and released in Australia direct to home entertainment channels thanks to eOne Films back in January. I recently got around to watching it and all I can say is WOW. KAJAKI: KILO TWO BRAVO runs for 108mins and is rated R18+.

 

Kajaki: Kilo Two Bravo Movie poster image

 

BY JASON KING

KAJAKI: KILO TWO BRAVO adapts the true story of a small British Army unit (call sign: “Kilo Two Bravo”), part of the 3rd  Battalion, the Parachute Regiment, that goes on a mission to shut down a Taliban checkpoint in September 2006. Instead one soldier steps on a landmine and loses a leg, in an attempt to save him they discover they are in a field, a sea of landmines and every step could mean death, it is a horrific tale that battles the need for self survival against the need to save your mates, your team, your brothers. It is brutal, it doesn’t hold back on the gruesome nature of the injuries that appear to pile up, but it never makes them a main point, merely a reality of the desperate situation.

KAJAKI: KILO TWO BRAVO is the motherland’s answer to  THE HURT LOCKER and while it’s mostly set in one of the most arid terrains on the planet it is more akin to one of those stranded at sea shark movies where there is nowhere the protagonists can go but wait for disaster while hoping for salvation. It reminded me a lot of OPEN WATER, a movie set in the polar opposite of terrains.

 

Kajaki: Kilo Two Bravo movie image

 

The movie, once established in the mine field basically never movies from a 10m x 10m area and it is in this area that life and death works its way through the soldiers. It is edge of your seat viewing and it is filled with screaming, profanity (completely understandable) and never wavering camaraderie. Even in these moments of pure desperation and deadly futility the movie still manages to keep a streak of dark humour running through it, including one of the best uses of the song Happy Birthday. KAJAKI: KILO TWO BRAVO is the directorial debut of Paul Katis who scored himself a BAFTA nomination for his fine directing and a few wins at other festivals around the world. What Katis crafted along with the brilliant screenplay from Tom Williams and the fine cinematography from Chris Coodger is something I wish more of the world gets to see because it’s bloody brilliant, it’s one of those screener discs you get for reviewing that sits in a pile until you find the motivation to watch it and then scream at yourself because this amazing movie has been sitting next to the Blu Ray player for months.

KAJAKI: KILO TWO BRAVO manages a lot more in this “war” movie than most American war movies, it has little to no bullets fired but has a lot of carnage and the realism felt while watching gave me chills, it shows most of the damage created by an “enemy” happens without them even being there as per the landmines or in this world of drones we appear to be living in. It highlights how ludicrous Afghanistan is and was to the average Joe soldier, left in ass-ends of the earth places, for this crew, simply looking over a dam, a stark contrasting giant of water in the middle of the desert.

It is a sad reminder of the everlasting stain of war on this planet, if the war ends will someone come through these valleys in Afghanistan and remove all these mines or will they be found by some kid with a soccer ball ten years from now? Nope – in KAJAKI: KILO TWO BRAVO these landmines aren’t even here from their current war, they are left over from the Soviet Campaign of the 80s.

 

Kajaki: Kilo Two Bravo movie image

 

I don’t really know any of the actors, I have seen them occasionally in other English films, but never REALLY noticed them, but bloody hell, they are all so good. Each actor really stands out in their little parts, special mention has to go to Mark Stanley though, since KAJAKI: KILO TWO BRAVO he has gone on to play Grenn in Game of Thrones and is a Knight of Ren in Star Wars Episode VII, he really stood out as the medic, he was like the big brother everyone looked up to, a character comfortable in his environment with a clear and level head.

KAJAKI: KILO TWO BRAVO shows a lot of truths about war, if anything is going to go wrong it is when other things are going wrong, Murphy will be sitting down looking at your predicament and throwing one endless shitpile of bad luck your way. You start with one guy stepping on a landmine, the guys that go to get him step on a landmine, the next person to go after them steps on a landmine, you are in a valley field (filled with landmines) and have radio issues, the idiots in a field base somewhere don’t listen and send the wrong helicopter, the helicopter comes too close, causes more landmines, medical supplies run dry, they keep hearing that help is coming, blood is flowing, people are in excruciating agony and close to death and yes, this is a real story, you can’t come up with a story this real.

 

Kajaki: Kilo Two Bravo | Salty Popcorn Movie Review | Movie image of tagged mine

 

I am glad I got to see KAJAKI: KILO TWO BRAVO and highly recommend it for all to see, it is one of the most real and relentless 108mins I have sat through in a movie for a long time. I needed a rest afterwards just to unwind and come back to my own reality. As with these true stories be sure to watch the stories of the real life soldiers over the credits, they made me a little emotional. Track this movie down and see it STAT!!

 

4 and a Half Pops

 

 

 is the owner and editor of Salty Popcorn and Spooning Australia. He is a movie, food, restaurant, wine, chocolate, bacon, burger and brussels sprouts addict. He is a member of the Australian Film Critics Association and has been in the Australian movie industry for 25yrs. He loves watching people trip over and is Leonardo DiCaprio’s biggest fan. All the social media links to the right and up will allow you to abuse, troll or stalk him :).

** All images courtesy of various sources on Google or direct from the distributor or publisher – credit has been given to photographers where known – images will be removed on request.