Thursday, October 24, 2019

Examining the climate for a war crime

The Kill Team takes its cue from a 2013 documentary of the same name. The story deals with a platoon in which the staff sergeant (Alexander Skarsgard) takes a view of combat that doesn’t distinguish between frightened civilians and dangerous foes. In the role of the soft-spoken but dangerous sergeant Deeks, Skarsgard shows us how his character ingratiates himself with his men. He creates a tight-knit atmosphere that fosters a climate of secrecy and allows the sergeant to function as a kind of free agent in an Afghanistan war zone. Building blocks of brotherhood create a fraternal environment that tests the conscience of one of Deek's soldiers, the dedicated Andrew Briggman (Nat Wolff). Briggman is no softie when it comes to warfare, but his qualms about killing civilians put him at odds with the rest of the group. If you’ve seen the documentary, you pretty much know what’s going to happen, but a committed cast brings a level of tension to the proceedings. And the increasingly antagonistic duet played by Skarsgard and Wolff gives the movie a solid if troubling center. When bullets are flying and explosive devices are going off, figuring out how to behave isn’t easy but director Dan Krauss, who also directed the documentary, raises a deeply vexing question. What happens when killing in war becomes murder?

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