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Dan Krauss
Alexander Skarsgård, Nat Wolff, Adam Long
Writing Credits:
Dan Krauss

A young American soldier in Afghanistan is disturbed by his commanding officer's behavior and is faced with a moral dilemma.

Rated R.

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 87 min.
Price: $21.99
Release Date: 12/24/2019

• Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Dan Krauss
• “The Reality of Courage” Featurette
• Deleted Scene


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The Kill Team [Blu-Ray] (2019)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (December 18, 2019)

Why do I feel like I just watched a movie in which Nat Wolff played a soldier? Oh yeah – because I did just watch a movie in which Nat Wolff played a soldier,

That was 2019’s Semper Fi . Now we head to 2019’s The Kill Team, a film that shares military themes but differs in other ways.

Set during the war in Afghanistan, Andrew Briggman (Wolff) engages in combat. Along the way, he learns of the murder of an innocent Afghan citizen under the command of Staff Sergeant Deeks (Alexander Skarsgård).

According to his conscience, Briggman wants to report these illegal activities to his superiors. However, complications arise as Deeks’ platoon turns more threatening and Briggman fears for his own safety.

This film began life as a 2013 documentary of the same title. Indeed, writer-director Dan Krauss also led the 2013 project, an interesting twist, as I wouldn’t expect a documentarian to subsequently helm a fictionalized version of the tale.

It’s too bad Lionsgate didn’t include the original documentary as a bonus feature here. It’d be interesting to compare the two versions and see how they differ.

Without the ability to contrast the films, I’m left with Team as a standalone. In that regard, it becomes a sporadically compelling tale but not one that musters consistency.

On one hand, I appreciate the manner in which Krauss tends to underplay the material. While a story such as this could lead toward loud theatrics, Team tends to remain fairly understated, and I like that approach.

In theory, at least. In reality, Krauss tends to lay back a little too much, so the natural drama doesn’t emerge to the degree it should.

Honestly, Team comes with a nearly shocking lack of tension. While it toys with threats and menace, these tend to feel rather toothless.

This leaves Team as a somewhat slow, undercooked affair. It feels like Krauss so desperately wanted to avoid cinematic clichés that he went too far in the other direction and sabotaged the natural drama.

Not that Team ever becomes dull, as the basic story remains compelling enough to keep us with it. And like I said, I maintain a certain level of respect for the film’s unwillingness to really Go Hollywood on us.

Some good performances help. In Semper Fi, Wolff played a hot-headed miscreant, so it feels impressive that he accomplishes a wholly different role via the solemn, upright Briggman. He fleshes out the part in a satisfying manner.

Skarsgård also adds depth to a character who could – and probably should – seem like a stereotypical villain. While he doesn’t soften Deeks’ edges, he ensures that he comes across as a believable human and not just an evil monster.

There’s much here that I appreciate – so much that I wish I liked Team more than I do. Unfortunately, the movie simply lacks the drama and tension it needs to grab the viewer.

The Disc Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B+/ Bonus B-

The Kill Team appears in an aspect ratio of 2.39:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This became a solid transfer.

Overall definition appeared positive. Only a few minor soft shots materialized, so the movie usually appeared accurate and well-defined. No jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and I saw no edge haloes or print flaws.

Despite the setting, a teal palette dominated, though we got a little amber and orange as well. The Blu-ray replicated these tones appropriately.

Blacks were deep and dark, and shadows looked fine. As a package, the image worked nicely.

As for the movie’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack, it opened up well, largely because it incorporated action elements. Not surprisingly, the mix came to life best during these combat sequences. Bullets, explosions and vehicles zipped around us and made sure that we felt like we were part of the action.

Even during more passive sequences, the film offered a good soundscape. Music showed nice stereo presence, while environmental elements popped up in logical, natural locations. Although the mix only soared on occasion, it still formed a solid sense of atmosphere.

From start to finish, the flick boasted excellent audio quality. Speech was crisp and concise, with good intelligibility and no edginess.

Music sounded bright and dynamic, and effects were strong. They demonstrated fine clarity and accuracy, and the mix also featured positive bass response. This was a consistently fine track.

As we shift to extras, we find an audio commentary with writer/director Dam Krauss. He presents a running, screen-specific look at the original documentary and its adaptation, story/characters, cast and performances, sets and locations, music, editing, effects and related areas.

Overall, this becomes a fairly good commentary. I’d like to know more about the documentary and the facts behind the story, but Krauss still delivers a reasonably solid view of the project.

The Reality of Courage runs 11 minutes, 45 seconds. It provides notes from Krauss.

With “Courage”, we look at story/characters, cast and performances, sets and locations, and costumes. Inevitably, Krauss repeats some info from his commentary, but this still becomes a good summary.

One Deleted Scene spans three minutes, 19 seconds. It shows Briggman’s discussions with the military about what he witnessed. The scene adds some exposition but it doesn’t seem especially necessary.

As a movie about war crimes, The Kill Team boasts solid potential, and I appreciate its understated nature. However, the film goes a little too far toward subtlety and doesn’t explore the drama as well as it should. The Blu-ray boasts very good picture and audio along with a decent array of bonus materials. Team works at times but remains spotty.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2 Stars Number of Votes: 1
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