It’s a sign of the times when a major star’s latest film doesn’t get a theatrical release – at least in the UK – and debuts on a streaming site, as this one does on Amazon Prime, starring Gerard Butler.
It doesn’t quite have the same stigma attached like the days of straight-to-DVD, but it’s not far off.
Here Butler stars as an MI6 agent on loan to the US government in this war thriller.
Having gone undercover in Iran, which leads to the destruction of a secret Iranian nuclear base, Tom Harris (Butler) is ready to return home. Just in time too, as his daughter back in the UK is about to graduate.
But just as he’s about to leave the country, he gets a call from his CIA handler Roman (Travis Rimmel), who has a job for him, three days tops, and he’ll still make it back for his daughter’s graduation. Harris begrudgingly agrees, particularly when he hears what the job is.
So he picks up a translator, Mohammad (Navid Negahban), and the pair set off on their mission. It’s not long into it however, that the proverbial shit hits the fan, and Harris’ cover from the last mission is blown, making himself and his translator, targets.
They soon find themselves on a new mission, one where they have to stay alive.
Kandahar finds itself in the position of being the second film this year that features the importance of translators to US and UK forces in country, but doesn’t quite hit the mark that Guy Ritchie’s The Covenant managed to do. And that’s even with an eerily similar plot too.
It’s quite curious for being a film that steers you in one direction, to a plot seemingly involving espionage with men on missions, only to have that quickly disappear, with that mission being cancelled, in favour of a need to escape the country with your life as its main story.
So what you get ultimately is a non action Gerard Butler film. To be fair there are some action sequences, but they’re not the usual all guns blazing affairs you normally associate with Butler.
It’s interesting that film mainly focuses on a relationship, between Harris and his translator, because it’s born from one between its star and director, Ric Roman Waugh, with this being their third collaboration, with a fourth on its way. And it’s probably the best out of three thus far (with Angel Has Fallen and Greenland being the previous two), but that’s not saying much sadly.
It takes the plot far longer than it really should to find its feet, and there’s a curious subplot of a British journalist who gets kidnapped, that never gets fleshed out, that appears to get resolved on its own without any outside interference, which comes across as more than a tad redundant.
And although the film eventually reaches a point where the relationship between the two men can develop, it’s not terribly substantial and a little too late.
It certainly has the kind of ending that leaves it open for a possible sequel, but after this, it doesn’t feel as if there’s much left that needs to be explored.
Whether the fact that it went straight-to-streaming is an indication of Butler’s waning star power is unclear, and although it’s brave to see him in a more character-driven piece, it’s a shame that the story couldn’t deliver on the same front, as clearly required.