Tribeca Film Festival: The Kill Team (2019) reviewed by Jonathan Berk

The Kill Team (2019) is director Dan Krauss’s narrative debut. It is a follow-up to his 2013 documentary by the same name. Krauss’s familiarity with the subject was a good starting point for his transition into narrative filmmaking, as the story is strong and difficult not to be caught up in. It is a tough watch, though – and it deals with a darker side of the U.S. military.

The Kill Team was an interesting narrative look at morality and peer pressure

Andrew Briggman (Nat Wolff) joins the military, and is deployed to Afghanistan. When Sergeant Deeks (Alexander Skarsgård) becomes his new team leader, he is initially optimistic about his role. However, it is not long that he witnesses some concerning behaviors by Deeks, and becomes torn with what his next step should be.

Wolff does a terrific job in his role as Briggman. There are several scenes that require much of the actor, and he is able to pull off the task perfectly. You can truly see the internal conflict and turmoil that Briggman is going through for a variety of reasons. There are issues of loyalty, morality, and fear that the character is struggling with at various point throughout the film. It is a natural progression, but a challenging role to play. Wolff is up to the task, and definitely makes the movie.

However…Skarsgård’s talent continues to impress me with every film I see. He has great range, and is able to be charming while simultaneously terrifying in this movie. It is easy to see why the other soldiers in Briggman’s squad are so quick to follow Deeks. He is intimidating while being inspiring; a true zealot in a number of ways, which makes Briggman’s ability to resist his rule a bit impressive.

There are some very intense scenes in this movie that left a strong impression. An early scene where the soldiers are just patting down the residents of a small village and are instructed in their role to make the residents feel comfortable by smiling and waving is one that I won’t soon forget. I won’t say what goes down or when, because the moment needs to happen organically – but it shocked me so much.

Final thoughts…

The Kill Team is one to watch out for as soon as it becomes available. It is an A24 film, so it should be in limited release in the near future. The documentary is currently available on Amazon Prime, and I will likely check that out soon. The Kill Team earns the Not Quite Golden, Ponyboy rating.

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