Sunday, January 31, 2016

Hyena Road (2015)

Director: Paul Gross
Writer:    Paul Gross
Cast:       Rossif Sutherland, Paul Gross, Clark Johnson

Three different men, three different worlds, three different wars - all stand at the intersection of modern warfare - a murky world of fluid morality where all is not what it seems.

It is a Canadian  film and many of the characters in it are from the Canadian army who was part of the coalition force stationed in Afghanistan as part of 'War on Terror'. It is centered chiefly around a Sniper unit and the director Paul Gross plays the part of a senior officer from intelligence unit whose task is to win hearts and minds of Afghan people. He identifies an elder from a village, who helped the snipers to escape from the Tallies (Taliban) during an operation, as a possible ally for him in that area. He was a legendary Jihadist, who goes by the name of Ghost, in the insurgency against Soviet Union who has now retired. His son has some debt owed to the local militia leader and the coalition wants to use the situation to eliminate the militia leader who is playing both sides. 

I haven't seen 'American Sniper', but from what I have heard, 'Hyena Road' could be classed as thinking man's American Sniper. The Hollywood film was notorious for its simplistic black and white world and jingoism. 'Hyena Road' captures the greyness of the war in a good way and the action set-pieces are done very well. The color tone is similar to that of a TV documentary and some might consider it as a cheap look but it worked for me since it gave the film a level of authenticity. They use real footage of Kandahar city in some of the scenes and when they cut back to the characters, there is is a significant difference and it is obvious that the two places (city and the set) are vastly different. Some of the characters are very cartoonish - the Afghan informer and the main villains for example, but they don't pose enough of a problem to stop you from enjoying the film. Some of the background music in the initial parts of the film is deliberately jingoistic but it is toned down during the latter half of the film as the film becomes more complex. 

Overall, it is a very good watch and the story is sufficiently complex and the action sequences are done very well to satisfy both kinds of audience. There is a romance thread in the film which is kind of predictable in terms of how it is gonna end up as and the suicide bombing kind of scenario at the climax is a little unbelievable in terms of plausibility. Film is recommended for people who hates the shit binary world of films like 'American Sniper' in action films.

Rating: 3.5/5