‘Kandahar’: Cast & Crew
Director: Ric Roman Waugh
Cast: Gerard Butler, Ali Fazal, Navid Negahban, Bahador Foladi, Nina Toussaint-White, Vassilis Koukalani, Mark Arnold, Tom Rhys Harries, Corey Johnson, Travis Fimmel, Ravi Aujla, Ray Haratian, Olivia-Mai Barrett, Rebecca Calder, Faizan Munawar Varya, Elnaaz Norouzi
Available On: Amazon Prime Video
Duration: 2 Hours
A freelance undercover operative (Gerard Butler) is working under contract with the CIA to insert malware into an Iranian nuclear research facility. His mission is successful, and the malware causes the facility to self-destruct. At the same time, the Iranian government has been monitoring a British journalist (Nina Toussaint-White) in Iran. She receives evidence from a whistleblower of the CIA’s ongoing sabotage of Iran’s nuclear programs. After the facility is destroyed, she is arrested by an Iranian security agency. She tells the Iranians she suspects a link between the facility’s destruction and a Belgian contractor because its contracts tend to be next to sensitive government sites. Based on this info, the undercover operative comes on the topmost hit list of numerous organisations. Will the undercover operative be able to finally evade the country? Will he be able to save his translator (Navid Negahban) who’s got stuck to him unknowingly and has also come on the same hit list? Will a Pakistani agent (Ali Fazal) be able to reach the two of them before the other armed forces catch the duo on the run? Will the undercover agent ever be able to make it to that secluded airstrip in Kandahar and hop onto that flight back to the US? Well, for all that, you’ll have to watch ‘Kandahar’.
Gerard Butler needs to seriously revamp the way he chooses scripts for his action films. Almost all his characters are feeling so repetitive. In pretty much all of them, he is running away from something or the other, or at best, he is hiding and trying to get to the bad guys. There is hardly any novelty in his characters, and it would be great to see him once play something else – maybe a genre change altogether or at least even try something else in action, maybe a hand-to-hand combat-style action film.
Ali Fazal comes up with a livewire of a performance. He has a smaller screen time than Gerard Butler, but he is so sinisterly good in the performance that you’re left wanting to see more and more of him. This is probably his coolest Hollywood outing ever. Otherwise, he is always playing the guy with some or the other accent. This time over, he plays the part so naturally that the calm just gets to you. To add to all of that, he looks absolutely kickass riding a bike in almost 85 per cent of his screen time in the movie.
Elnaaz Norouzi was totally wasted in a blink-and-miss performance. Considering it was her big Hollywood debut movie, it would have been good had she picked up something that’s more worthy of the screen time. In this, she barely has one dialogue in the entire film. Such a waste!
The rest of the supporting cast doesn’t have any standout performances.
‘Kandahar’: Script, Direction & Technical Aspects
Mitchell LaFortune may have been writing from personal experience, but he missed out on the thrills quite a lot. Considering the entire film was based on the fact that whether or not Butler and Negahban would manage to reach the airstrip for their flight, the writing could have been a lot more gripping. For example, the way in ‘Argo’ you’re left on the tenterhooks till the very end about whether or not they catch the flight. Sadly, the writing fails to bring that thrill.
Ric Roman Waugh’s direction is pretty much the only good thing about ‘Kandahar’. He manages to depict a story that’s real in most bits. But what’s even better is that he promises to give you a guns-galore action film, and he definitely manages to give you every bit of that. Had the writing been a lot more thrilling, the feel of the adrenaline rushing through your veins would have been much more, and you would have been on the edge of your seat asking for more.
MacGregor’s cinematography is the worst part of the film. There is an entire action sequence which is shot in the dark. However, what’s sad about that is that it’s so dimly lit that even if you’re seated in a dark room and watching the film, you’re still bound to miss out on a lot of details. There had to be some innovative technique used so as to make that scene more pleasurable to view. Then, the beautiful landscapes of the middle east are not taken advantage of that much. The overhead shots are used a bare minimum, which should have been a staple when you’re shooting outdoors and you’ve such wide natural open spaces of a desert region. The cinematography is disappointing, to say the least.
Colby Parker Jr.’s editing is sloppy. The initial 35-40 minutes of the movie are so slow-paced that you end up missing the adrenaline-pumping feel of the action. A lot could have been chopped off so as to make the movie finish in about an hour and a half. That would have made the film more crisp.
Nothing to wow about in David Buckley’s music, but the background score is somehow good. It manages to bring the feel of the action alive.
‘Kandahar’: Can Kids Watch It?
‘Kandahar’ depicts the reality and the harsh nature of being a CIA operating on foreign grounds, not really knowing what's around the corner. But despite the best intentions of the plot, the film isn’t able to be as gritty as it was supposed to be. Ali Fazal’s livewire performance stands tall. Gerard Butler is repetitive once again. Even for fans of the action genre, this would just be a Below Average Watch. I am going with 2 stars.