Kajaki is a heartfelt, unassuming and refreshingly apolitical film that captures British soldiers in a modern conflict - something that hasn't been done since the days of the Second World War.
Contrasting the serene, beautiful landscapes of the country with the central narrative horrors, Katis teases out the slow-drip progression of the story with an extremely confident handling of the suspense inherent with a frustratingly unknowable antagonistic force such are landmines. Similar to Kathryn Bigelow's outstanding bomb disposal drama The Hurt Locker (2008), though without the use of slow motion as a device, the film ratchets up the tension using the simple factors of humanity's fight for survival when pitted against forces far beyond their control. Another strong aspect of the film is its focus on the minutiae of being a soldier, from the care packages they're sent, to the casual camaraderie they share, however blighted it is at times by basic and predictable dialogue. Boosted by a strong cast that's a mixture of unknown stars and established British talent, Kajaki excels by giving an unadulterated and honest account of the survivors' experience, foregrounding the importance of teamwork over an abundance of gratuitous action sequences. Though its final coda is soundtracked so as to give it an unnecessarily cloying and compassionate edge, this is largely an unflinching and incredibly moving exploration of the physical and mental brutalities of war and the pangs endurance when in an intensely confined dilemma.
Ed Frost | @Frost_Ed