Afghanistan rescue missions are Hollywood’s latest military movie fad

It has been just over 18 months since the evacuation of Kabul marked the end of the United States’ 20-year war in Afghanistan. That time was marked by memories – from some of the first soldiers to jump into Afghanistan in the fall of 2001 to those who helped evacuate thousands of civilians from Hamid Karzai International Airport in August 2021. And over time, that final chaotic event, the evacuation and its lingering aftermath, has become fodder for movie magic.

Three films are currently in production or about to be released that center on the idea of ​​US soldiers on a mission to rescue the interpreters and other Afghans who served at their side, often at great personal risk.

Less than three months after the Kabul evacuation, Universal Pictures greenlit a film about former Army Special Forces soldiers returning to Afghanistan to help evacuate some of their former compatriots and family members. Channing Tatum and Tom Hardy have already been cast in the lead roles in this film. Then there are Guy Ritchies The Bund It follows a Special Forces soldier, played by Jake Gyllenhaal, who returns to Afghanistan to rescue the interpreter who once saved his life. And finally, KandaharStarring Gerard Butler and debuting in May, it appears to be set a few years before the Kabul evacuation but follows a similar theme of an American doing everything possible to save a civilian from the chaos and violence in Afghanistan.

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All of these films, and three are enough to suggest some sort of trending, share a similar theme: special operations personnel — or, given the proliferation of beards and gear in promotional material, people who look like they’re something of a species by SOF – Returning for one last mission in Afghanistan to help the people who helped them. Correcting something that still seems very, very wrong.

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Since its inception in 2001, the global war on terror has played out on small and large screens from Afghanistan to Iraq to Africa and in between. There was 24-hour coverage of the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, and today you can relive on TikTok how soldiers from the 1st Armored Division blew up Tupac in an M1 Abrams tank circa 2003. Combat footage became a staple of a war that coincided with this era of “pictures or it didn’t happen.”

Basically, when Hollywood first learned what was going on in Iraq and Afghanistan, the first theme was, shit sucks, but “the troops” are, on the whole, good. Think something like In the Valley of Elah, Edited or stop loss. In the late 2000s, the image of the “operator” began to make its way into the mainstream. The hair, the gear, the implied rebellion against bureaucratic crap, and the implication that such rules and regulations only served to slow down the guys who got shit done. These were the troops actually fighting the war, or so the message on the screen seemed to be. Whether it was an explosives disposal technician The injured locker or an intelligence officer in Green Zone or a reputable operator in American sniper or sole survivorthere were some good men out there just doing their best in a screwed up world.

Perhaps, as Iraq ended and Afghanistan entered its second decade, a more scathing, cynical perspective flourished. war machine or Whiskey Tango Foxtrot offered a kind of meta-commentary on how, yes, the whole Iraq and Afghanistan thing seems extremely messed up. Something like cherry — adapted from the memoirs of a medic later arrested for armed robbery and drug use — offered a kind of unvarnished, if extreme, look at what life as a soldier and veteran might be like. Much of this may have been awkward and was certainly a far cry from the early days of patriotic screen displays that signaled the start of the GWOT era, but with hindsight it seems a fitting reflection of the times.

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Now that the war that started the era of GWOT is over – although thousands of troops are still stationed around the world and the monthly airstrikes are taking place in Africa – the next step in the genre seems to be solving the plight of thousands of Being Afghans Left Behind grew up under the auspices of an American-backed government. And if possible, create something heroic in the process that could offset the bitter aftertaste of the end of the war.

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