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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
No matter the odds, it's important to protect those who need your help and return to your loved ones. There's an overall anti-war message, too, with lines like "ancient wars were fought for spoils; modern wars aren't meant to be won." Death means something here, and characters mourn their fallen friends or family. But at the very end, someone argues that "you must return home to know what you're fighting for," indicating that fighting must go on, even if there's no clear reason for it.
Positive Role Models
Tom Harris, is resourceful and brave but probably not the best role model. He does what he does out of a sense of guilt/malaise, and violence is often a solution (with few repercussions). In general, characters seem exhausted and burnt out by fighting and disgusted by what it all means.
While the movie is set in Afghanistan, and the majority of people seen on screen are of Middle Eastern descent, the story centers on a White man (Scottish actor Gerard Butler), with other White men (such as Australian-born Travis Fimmel) in supporting roles. Translator Mohammad "Mo" Doud (Iranian-born Navid Negahban) is a sympathetic character -- he shows mercy, and he's a devoted family man -- but his role is primarily to support Butler's White hero. On the other hand, at least some of the villains (mercenaries, members of the Taliban) are humanized, with explanations provided for their actions. The main villain is played by Indian actor Ali Fazal. Female characters aren't prominent, but one, a journalist, is played by Grenadian actor Nina Toussaint-White.
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Violence & Scariness
Guns and shooting, sometimes fatal. Bloody wounds. Dead bodies. Blood puddles. Huge explosions. Helicopter crash. Motor vehicle chases. Woman abducted from hotel room. Four corpses on ground, with blood trails on the wall from where they were shot; a character takes a selfie with the corpses. Characters chained by wrists. Character beaten. Child sets trap with bomb. Corpses hang from an excavator arm. Soldiers beat people in the street. Threats.
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Sporadic uses of "f--k," "s--t," "motherf----r," "a--hole," "bitch," "my God," "Jesus," "idiot."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Brief party sequence with drinking, smoking. Brief vaping. Brief cigar-smoking. Brief beer-drinking.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Kandahar is an action movie set in Afghanistan. After Black Ops agent Tom Harris (Gerard Butler) blows up an Iranian nuclear facility and his identity is compromised, he must escape the country alongside his interpreter, Mohammad "Mo" Doud (Navid Negahban). Violence is intense and includes guns and shooting (with fatalities), bloody wounds, dead bodies, pools of blood, explosions, vehicle chases and crashes, a woman being abducted from her hotel room, a man chained by the wrists and tortured, and more. A character also takes a selfie with four corpses and the blood trails from where they were shot. Language is strong, with several uses of "f--k," plus "s--t," "motherf----r," "a--hole," "bitch," "my God," "Jesus," and "idiot." People drink and smoke briefly during a party, and other scenes briefly show cigar-smoking and vaping. The movie starts off pretty rough, with lots of exposition and little character development, but as it narrows its focus, it becomes gripping and even moving. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This Afghanistan-set actioner starts off pretty rough, with tons of exposition and little character, but as it moves along and narrows its focus, it becomes surprisingly gripping, even emotional. Stuntman-turned-director Ric Roman Waugh pulled off a similar trick in his last outing with Butler, the asteroid disaster movie Greenland, and even though Kandahar isn't nearly as effective, it has similar touches. First-time screenwriter Mitchell LaFortune packs his thorough script with details, and, rather than taking chintzy shortcuts, it feels like a fleshed-out world.
That said, as it leaps all over from Iran to Afghanistan to Dubai and introduces many characters in a short amount of time, without much context for who they are and what their relationships are, Kandahar is initially frustrating. But once Tom and Mo start their long escape attempt, things ramp up. Viewers learn that Tom has served six tours in the Middle East and is no longer convinced that he's fighting for anything that matters. And he feels guilt over the loss of his previous translator and putting Mo in danger, as well as for neglecting his family by being away. And so the choices made by both Tom and Mo -- often more personal than patriotic -- carry some weight. Indeed, Kandahar is often more heartbreaking than it is exciting. It's an action movie with a soul.
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Our Editors Recommend
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