Restrepo review – the soldiers who made it out of Death Valley

Posted on 19 July 2010
By Miv Evans
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A pair of intrepid journalists travelled with the Battle Company of 173rd Airborne Brigade in a remote Afghani valley, considered to be one of the most dangerous postings of the war.

This documentary gives us combat, bullet by bullet, soldiers, strike by strike, Afghanis, elder by elder, all set against the harsh terrain of a valley that has claimed 50 US lives.

It’s Afghanistan at its ugliest and documentary filmmaker at its most exciting and it’s a compelling combination.

The soldiers of the Second Platoon are flown to the outskirts of the Korengal Valley, from where they trudge deep into Taliban country to set up a US outpost that they will finally call home.

They’d probably call it base but when you’re there 24/7 there must be a bit of a cross over. Another crossover is their actual work.

Three Elders show up wanting to know why someone shot their cow (yes, it’s a funny story) the soldiers become negotiators.

When faced with desolate ground, they become construction workers. They dig out trenches and build firewalls but down tools to return fire when they come under attack, which happens on an hourly basis.

As soon as the dust settles they pick up their shovels and get back on the job. But this isn’t the dangerous part.

We see the soldiers strategizing, grieving, dancing and sunbathing (yes, one was actually doing that!) and hold our breath when another steps away from safety to get a better shot at taking Mr Jihad’s head off.

We applaud them when they move like magnets to protect their injured, cry with them when a comrade falls and feel proud when they name their US Outpost after their lost buddy PFC Juan Restrepo, who could create magic with his guitar.

Directed and Written by: Tim Hetherington & Sebastian Junger
Rated: TBR
Distributor: National Geographic Channel
Genre: Documentary
Producers: Outpost Films
Running time: 94 mins
Release date: 2nd July, 2010