The Reel Review


When his cover is blown, a CIA operative who’s been sabotaging Iran’s nuclear weapons program must flee from the Afghan city of Herat with his Afghan-American interpreter to their extraction point in Kandahar, avoiding Iranian and Pakistani intelligence authorities who are competing to capture them. Gerard Butler and Navid Negahban (American Sniper, Homeland) star in this action/thriller.

Gerard Butler and Navid Negahban in Kandahar

Butler’s third film with director Ric Roman Waugh (Angel Has Fallen, Greenland) is pretty much a rehash of the same warzone paint by numbers, action/adventure schtick – explosion/car chase/hand-to-hand combat and repeat. But with Kandahar there is an even more convoluted plot and what seems like an eternity of downtime between the action sequences.

Gerard Butler in Kandahar

So as an action/adventure film, Kandahar is a bit of a mess. The second half is about 30 minutes too long, with far too many hard-to-see nighttime shootouts and a dull story that never really takes off. The rare visuals of Saudi Arabia are interesting. But even the far-fetched finale is a bit of a dud in this forgettable film.


Gerard Butler and Mitchell LaFortune on the set of Kandahar

Kandahar is based on a script from former military intelligence officer Mitchell LaFortune, which he says is based on his experiences working for America’s Defense Intelligence Agency in Afghanistan in 2013 during the Edward Snowden leaks.

Kandahar is only the second American movie filmed entirely in Saudi Arabia. The first movie shot entirely in Saudi Arabia is 2012’s Wadjda.

Kandahar is the third film with the same name – after a 2001 Iranian film about an Afghan refugee who returns from Canada to prevent her sister from committing suicide as the invading Taliban approaches, and a 2010 Indian film about a 1999 hijacking of an Indian Airlines flight.

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