Dan Krauss‘ “The Kill Team” is a dramatization of the Maywand District murders which was previously covered in his 2013 documentary by the same name.
Between 2009 and 2010 a small group of soldiers stationed in Afghanistan were led on a series of raids by Sergeant Deeks (Alexander Skarsgård.) Deeks comes across as a self-righteous commander who has done terrible things, but never anything wrong. One soldier shares a story where Deeks gunned down an entire family who were later found to be transporting high explosives. Most of the young men under his command are thrilled to follow his “If they aren’t helping us, they are the enemy” mentality, even when it leads to the execution and torture of local civilians.
Andrew Briggman (Nat Wolff) becomes increasingly uncomfortable as the lines between right and wrong are blurred and eventually crossed. His objections do not go unnoticed by Deeks and the rest of the unit, and soon his brothers in arms are threatening him as well.
As a narrative film, the movie is fine. Performances are good, but nothing really stands out. Skarsgård is on autopilot, delivering a cookie-cutter portrayal that is effective but too familiar. Wolff stands out, but of the other soldiers blend together with similar physical looks and personalities. The entire film suffers a similar fate, being just too familiar to stand out in any way.
The choice to make a second, fictionalized, film based on the same subject as the documentary is a questionable one. The truth behind the story is what sets it apart from similar fare, so why watch the new version when the documentary is already available?
The Kill Team (2019)