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Tim Hetherington and author Sebastian Junger spent a year embedded with the Second Platoon in Afghanistan, chronicling the hard work, fear, and brotherhood that come along with repelling a deadly enemy. Hunkered down with the soldiers in one of the region's most strategic valleys, the filmmakers uncover the dark humor, sleepless surreality, and constant anxiety of war. By simply viewing the poster and hearing vague ideas about Restrepo may lead some viewers to believe this is an action flick. It's not. This is a documentary with real footage, nothing is fake. The soldiers presented here aren't actors, but are real soldiers. Hetherington and Junger offer audiences the opportunity to see what life is like for those who fight for us. If nothing else, Restrepo should make American viewers feel grateful and hold a high amount of respect for the soldiers. Even though there are scenes that show combat, don't expect it to be similar to any of the big Hollywood blockbusters. The combat scenes are raw footage, but certainly deliver a tense feeling.
Since the film was shot among the soldiers in Afghanistan, there wasn't a full production crew on site. The movie switches between handheld cam and the steady cam interviews. Even during the handheld camera footage, it isn't ever too shaky to be able to tell what's going on. The audio is just as one would expect. It's mostly a front stage affair with only a couple scenes that utilize the surround channels. However, the dialogue is never difficult to hear and the subwoofer makes it presence known when needed. The audio and video presentations seen in Restrepo are good, given the source material.
Those of us who have not fought in a war couldn't ever imagine what these soldiers endure. Restrepo shows us at home what our fighting men and women are being put through and what they do in order to escape reality. This is a superb documentary that I can highly recommend even to those who don't enjoy the genre. If you're looking for a high-octane action flick, look elsewhere because this isn't it. Restrepo is a raw and powerful documentary that comes with a high recommendation.