Gerard Butler’s war movie the opposite of fun

Johnny Oleksinsky


May 25, 2023 | 2:56 p.m.

“Kandahar,” starring Gerard Butler, is the kind of textureless action-thriller that sounds like it’s been musically scored by a subwoofer.

The bass continues to echo as grizzled men frown and whisper gravely about matters of the highest gravity, and a simple story of racing against time is tied into incredibly confusing knots.

Film critic

Duration: 120 minutes.
Rated R (violence and language). In theaters.

Director Ric Roman Waugh’s lackluster film gropes and groans through Iran, the United Arab Emirates and ultimately Afghanistan as the hunt for CIA agent Tom Harris (Butler) intensifies.

“Kandahar”, to its credit, aspires to be deep.

Geopolitics appears, as does the Taliban’s mutilated interpretation of the Koran, as well as ISIL and other aftershocks of US wars in the Middle East.

In reality, however, it’s just another boring, inscrutable Gerard Butler film in which no event seems to matter more than the next – and grimaces are mistaken for drama.

Before the ho-hum Harris gets away, he poses as a utility worker in Iran while trying to destroy a nuclear power plant.

Agent Tom Harris (Gerard Butler) and translator Mo (Navid Negahban) race to escape Afghanistan. Hopper Stone

Dangerous job done, he is one day away from returning home to attend his daughter’s graduation in London, when his identity is revealed – thanks to a leak of information to a reporter.

This reporter is violently captured by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards in her hotel room, and then – in a move that foreshadows the lackluster character development throughout – we learn next to nothing about her.

In Dubai, Harris is told by his handler (Travis Fimmel) that he will be airlifted to Kandahar, Afghanistan with local translator Mo (Navid Negahban).

Harris is being chased by counter-terrorism assassin Kahil (Ali Fazal) Hopper Stone

The duo race through the desert, pursued by Afghan special forces and a motorcycle assassin named Kahil (Ali Fazal).

Many of the pointed criticisms of the Taliban and terrorist organizations are voiced through Kahil, which is a jaw-dropping feature for a mercenary killer.

Butler, all the while, as usual, speaks from the back of his throat and frowns – his exclusive expression.

The actor’s consistent, quiet machismo can be perfect when put to work in the right projects, like the campy, focused “Greenland,” also directed by Waugh.

Here, however, it’s a downer on top of a downer.

The finale of “Kandahar” features a massive explosion. Destroyers, make no mistake – the effect of this ending and the whole movie is like a puff of smoke.

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