The Documentary Project - Volume 7: "Restrepo"

Throughout 2007, filmmakers Tim Heatherington and Sebastian Junger followed The Men of Battle Company 2nd of the 503rd Infantry Regiment 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team. During their tour of Afghanistan, this group of soldiers were assigned the task of taking and holding the Korangal Valley, one of the most dangerous battlefields in the world. "Restrepo" takes an in depth look at the lives of these courageous men throughout the length of their tour.

I'm not sure I'll ever write a shorter review for a film as stirring as "Restrepo" is. The kind of access that Heatherington and Junger got to shoot this film is unheard of and you see why early on when the camera winds up basically down and in the dirt after the platoon is ambushed along a mountain road. Soon after, the soldiers establish Camp Restrepo (named for the first man in their company who was killed in action) atop a large hill and find themselves caught between the horrifying violence that takes place in the Korangal Valley and the almost-as-bad boredom that sets in between battles. Mixing the footage shot during the tour and interviews done after they returned stateside, Heatherington and Junger do a magnificent job of literally putting the audience into the shoes of these men and displaying just what sort of hell they've been put through. They also manage to pull no punches (including a harrowing scene in which the men are attacked and one of their number dies just off camera) without glorifying the awfulness of war. And in addition to all of that, perhaps the greatest stroke of genius lies in the fact that "Restrepo" is completely void of politics. From the first moment to the last, this film is about the men and nothing else and regardless of your political leaning, it presents a message that we can all get behind.

"Restrepo" is a tough, gritty, REAL look at war and as such, is not for the faint of heart. But if you can muster up the stomach to sit through it, then I highly recommend a viewing. Incredible film.

Grade: A