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Sand Castle: spoiler-free review


This is a spoiler-free review of a new film from Netflix.

Sand Castle is set in the early days of the US invasion of Iraq (2003). In that sense, we know how it ends - so no spoilers there. In another sense, this is a microcosm of that war, a slice of life that follows a unit of the US Special Forces who are ordered to restore the water supply to a small village. The locals don't want them there. The soldiers don't want to be there. The geo-political and social impacts are in sharp focus. The irony, of course is that the US destroyed the water supply during earlier bombing.

Filmed in Jordan, award-winning director Fernando Coimbra brings tension and fast-paced action sequences to Chris Roessner's screenplay. Featuring two English men as the big names in this film, Nicholas Hoult outshines Henry Cavill, Sand Castle delivers the grittiness of war and the realities of invading a country with no exit strategy. The film is a political statement on the futility of the invasion and the chaos it leaves behind. The humanity in the film belongs Nicholas Hoult whose character is the only one we get to really know. we see how reluctant he is to go into battle by self-inflicting a broken hand. We witness his journey: how his colleagues get killed, how his faith in humanity is tested when his plan to enlist the help of a local schoolteacher ends tragically. By the end of the film, he doesn't want to go home as he feels his job is not done.

We have seen this story told before in other films, in the journeys of many heroes. This story had a beginning, a middle and an end unlike the ongoing conflict in Iraq today.

Production values are high and this made for TV movie would not be lost on the big screen.


 

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