Entries in The Kill Team (2)

Wednesday
May012019

"KILL TEAM" // TRIBECA 2019 REVIEW

BY MATEO MORENO

Based on the 2013 documentary of the same name, THE KILL TEAM is a harrowing and cautionary tale of unbridled machismo, and a team of U.S. soldiers out of control. Writer-Director Dan Krauss’ retells his story for a feature, enlisting commanding performances by Alexander Skarsgård, playing a sociopathic squad leader, and Nat Wolff as the soldier whose point of view we see the world through. It’s not an easy watch, especially when you know it’s based on a true story, and if you’ve seen the documentary (which we reviewed HERE), then you know it’s sadly all true.

Wolff plays Andrew Briggman, a solider who’s completely taken aback by their new Staff Sergeant Deeks (Skarsgård). He’s not a warm type in the least. He’s worried about taking out anyone he deems a threat to him or his team, whether that person is on the enemy’s side or their own. Since Deeks is a calm, cool and collected he makes the awful things that he has his team do almost seem justified. Or perhaps it’s just the cost of war. He commends their actions with comments like, “Good hunting” and tells Briggman, “We kill people. That’s what we do.” Right and wrong start to mix, but there’s a constant nagging in the back of his head, telling him that the way they are treating the people in Afghanistan isn’t right, and the very dangerous and bloody ways that Deeks sees the world is something that has to be stopped.

 

The Kill Team is intense and horrible, but the filmmaking is fairly straight forward, so it doesn’t quite have the emotional impact that the documentary did. But it still does pack a punch, and just how the actual case created a real-life scandal, knowing that this behavior definitely exists is enough to make you sick. War is hell, and sometimes creates demons to do its bidding. This is the story of such a squad, and the disturbing turn of events that dug them out.

 

VERDICT: SEE IT
GRADE: B+
WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY Dan Krauss STARRING Nat Wolff, Alexander Skarsgård, Adam Long, Jonathan Whitesell, Brian "Sene" Marc, Rob Morrow. Playing as part of the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival. For more information: http://www.tribecafilm.com/filmguide/kill-team-2019
Saturday
Apr272013

THE KILL TEAM - TRIBECA REVIEW

BY MATEO MORENO

Stories of war are always a bit frightening.  The brutality that happens in a warzone can shake up the most put together of all of us.  And then there are the stories of things that go wrong in wartime.  The stories of men who has lost sight of why they are fighting in a war, people who suddenly want glory instead of reaching out a hand, and those who simple are lost among it all.  In 2010, soldier in Afghanistan were restless.  Many of them were confused on why they were there, bored of not doing anything, and their own personal feelings were mixed up and confused.  So a team inside the Army was born, which the Media later dubbed "THE KILL TEAM."  They were comprised of several men under the twisted guidance of Staff Sergeant Calvin Gibbs who staged fake combat scenarios so they could kill Afghani men and women for sport.  Gibbs was a dark and demented man who bragged about how he could and has killed people and staged it as if they were attacking him.  He tells his team, "It's easy" and brings them each through it as if it's a right of passage, threating their life if they say no.  The story sounds like something out of a dark and twisted Hollywood movie, but unfortunately the story is all too true.

 

Director Dan Krauss takes us into the harrowing story through the eyes of Private Adam Winfield, a so called “whistleblower” who wanted to alert his superiors about the gruesome acts happening around him but feared of retaliation.  He informed his father who could only do so much, as Private Winfield had to report it himself.  Sadly, Winfield is not completely innocent, and Krauss lets the story unfold as an often shocking, disturbing tale of murderers behind enemy lines, and those murderers are some of our own.  It’s a well-crafted tale, hard to watch and tightly edited with interviews of many of the “Kill Team,” who also took photographs with many of the bodies and kept “trophies” of body parts.  How something like this can happen right under our noses is scary and watching it through Private Winfield’s eyes you truly don’t know what you would have done in his situation either.  How do you report something which will possibly end with your own death or “disappearance?”  Who can you trust when your own platoon, who are supposed to be the men and women you count on every day, are the ones that have threatened you and betrayed every ounce of honor their uniform holds.  Each soldier gives a fascinating look into the case, and many give statements that don’t leave you easily.  Eerily, one of the soldiers interviewed says “We’re not the only ones who did this.  We’re just the ones who got caught.”  A sad and worrisome statement echoing a similar situation many other soldiers could be caught up in.  The Kill Team is not an easy journey to go on, but an important one as it shows the horrors that our boys and girls are heading into, and the nightmares they have sometimes turned into.

 

VERDICT: A MUST SEE

DOCUMENTARY  Directed by Dan Krauss  Country USA Content Disclaimer (Adult Language, Graphic Images of Violence)  For ticket and screening information: http://tribecafilm.com/festival/tickets

BOTTOM LINE: An unnerving and disturbing true story of murder in times of war, and the darkness that men can become.