Armadillo’s look at the war in Afghanistan is brutally visceral.
ARMADILLO (Janus Metz). 100 minutes. Some subtitles. Opens Friday (July 1) at the TIFF Bell Lightbox. See listing. Rating: NNNN
After Restrepo and The Tillman Story, there wouldn't seem to be many new angles from which to consider the war in Afghanistan, but Janus Metz's searing look at a Danish company's six-month tour of duty breaks new ground for immediacy and visceral impact. (Some of that is literal; Metz doesn't shy away from images of the dead and wounded.)
Named for the Danish army's forward base of operations, Armadillo shows us things we haven't seen before: the awkwardness of negotiating a "fair" price for a farmer's destroyed poppy fields, the inadequacy of translators in conveying the devastation and grief of the locals, the intensity and confusion of a firefight with Taliban insurgents.
And if the opening shot of backlit helicopters quotes the hallucinatory futility of Apocalypse Now, the final sequence - delving into the confusion and chaos of the battlefield - earns that comparison.