Any movie with only three characters is a risk.
Especially if one of them is only a garbled voice over a scratchy
comlink. The other two better
be absolutely riveting.
And they are. Isaac
(Aaron Taylor-Johnson) is the spotter, the “Eyes” for the sniper,
Matthews (John Cena). They're
both American soldiers in Iraq as the war is officially winding down in
2007. But here they are, out
in the desert, by themselves, somehow out of touch with the rest of their
We viewers have to figure out what's going on here through the
profanity-laced dialogue of the two soldiers, and peering with them
through their gun sights, where we eventually realize we're looking at the
lifeless bodies of the other soldiers in their platoon.
They have been wiped out by the infamous Afghan sniper called
“The Ghost,” who's reputed to have killed 75 U.S. soldiers
single-handedly. Matthews and
Isaac are desperately scanning the perimeter, looking for any kind of
motion, and see none. They
figure that “The Ghost” must have just slipped away again, but as they
descend their high ground to check on their comrades-in-arms, they both
get hit. Matthews is down, and
not getting back up. Isaac
scrambles behind a stone wall, where he painfully attends to his wounded
leg with the best tourniquet he can manage.
He uses his radio to ask for help, but then begins to suspect that
the voice that's answering him is not a friendly.
Yes, he's talking to “The Ghost,” who has intentionally shot
out Isaac's knee as well as his canteen.
Just to watch him suffer. This
infuriates Isaac, but there's not much he can do, other than try to keep
“The Ghost,” who calls himself “Juba” (the voice of Laith Nakli)
busy on the comlink in hopes that Matthews just might stir himself enough
to get just one more shot at their elusive target.
It's intense, it's tough to watch, and it's certainly not fun.
But if it's any realistic indication of the kind of challenges our
soldiers face “over there,” then we should all watch it, so we can
know more about what we're sending them to do, and how incredibly
difficult it is.