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Parents' Guide to


By Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 15+

Shooting, explosions in decent Afghanistan-set actioner.

Movie R 2023 120 minutes
Kandahar Movie Poster: Gerard Butler stands, looking exhausted and concerned; smaller images of a helicopter and a man on a motorcycle appear below

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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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