“In May 2007, the men of second platoon, Battle Company, began a 15 month deployment in the Korengal Valley of Eastern Afghanistan”. Considered by CNN “the deadliest place in the world” due to the fact that close to 70% of ordinance dropped in Afghanistan was used in the Korengal Valley. “Restrepo”, a documentary by Sebastian Junger and Tim Hetherington follows those 15 months in a manner that is both engaging and enlightening. Restrepo is shocking not because it is an expose filled with bodies and blood but because of its presentation of humanity, every permutation of it.
There are no “god damn” moments during this movie, no appropriate times for audience outbursts. At no time did I slap my knee and enjoy an explosion. But that’s not for lack of explosions. As I watched Restrepo I struggled to comprehend the fact that the snaps and pops I heard were real bullets being fired at real soldiers. Michael Bay had no hand in this, nor did any facet of Hollywood, there are no squibs, no after effects. The grainy video we are presented with is as real as your 9 to 5. But hopefully you don’t get shot at.
Throughout Restrepo we are presented with the many faces of war and how it is processed by the men of Battle Company. Ordered to push deep into the Korengal and establish a outpost that they then named Restrepo in honor of the second casualty the company experienced. The most impressive part of Restrepo is the portrayal of soldiers, it doesn’t actively vilify or dignify them but instead presents a well rounded view of the 15 months of these mens lives that was spent in the Korengal. We see patrols, combat, interaction with locals, and how these men occupy themselves during down time. You’ve seen Black Hawk Down (hopefully), you’ve seen Saving Private Ryan (also, hopefully), now see the real thing. Watch Restrepo.