Register  |   Log In  |  
Sign up to our weekly newsletter    
Search   
Empire Magazine and iPad
Follow Me on Pinterest YouTube Tumblr Viber
Empire
Trending On Empire
The Big 2015 Movie Preview
The 50 Best Films Of 2014
Review Of The Year 2014
The Perfect Night In
Great Movies From Warner Bros.
Create A Short Film
With the BFI & O2
Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

FILM DETAILS
Certificate
TBC
Cast
Directors
Janus Metz .
Screenwriters
Running Time
100 minutes

LATEST FILM REVIEWS
Horse Money
4 Star Empire Rating
Tangerines
4 Star Empire Rating
Infini
2 Star Empire Rating
Zarafa
2 Star Empire Rating
Closed Curtain
4 Star Empire Rating



5 STAR REVIEWS
Man With A Movie Camera
5 Star Empire Rating
Salt Of The Earth, The
5 Star Empire Rating
Song Of The Sea
5 Star Empire Rating
Look Of Silence, The
5 Star Empire Rating
Mad Max: Fury Road
5 Star Empire Rating

Armadillo
Small placental mammals not included


submit to reddit


Plot
Forward operating base Armadillo, Helmand province. Lead by revered veteran Rasmus, a small group of Danish soldiers complete a tour of duty against the Taliban. As documentary maker Metz follows the men on patrol, news filters back that Rasmus has been caught in an IED explosion...


Review
Armadillo
At the midway point of this terrific Afghan war documentary comes an edit so heart-thumpingly visceral it almost stands comparison with Kubrick’s spinning bone from 2001. The cut captures the mix of grinding boredom and sheer terror that afflicts the soldiers of Helmand province’s Armadillo compound, a sandbagged Alamo that marks the frontline in the war with the Taliban. To say more would spoil it; suffice to say, you’ll never look at Xbox Black Ops the same way again.

These young Danes form the cast of director Janus Metz’s fly-on-the-wadi-wall documentary. Metz and his courageous/crazy cameraman Lars Skree spent six months with them as they patrolled a scrub-strewn corner of Helmand where the Taliban — “ninjas”, as they’re aptly nicknamed — are an ever-present, and lethal, foe.

That the film meant huge personal risk for Metz and Skree is apparent in every frame. The Taliban’s sobriquet is well-earned: they appear and disappear like vapour, planting IEDs under cover of darkness to await the unsuspecting feet of the Danes, and breaking cover during the day to spray Kalashnikov fire from behind village walls.

The firefights are so extraordinary they have an almost feature-film quality, with only the zip of bullets to remind just how real it all is. Like the Oscar-nominated Restrepo, the filmmakers eschew the bigger political picture to focus instead on the men themselves. “Your government has charted its political course,” they’re blandly told. “It’s your job to continue unhesitatingly.” They do just that, but the camera offers telling glimpses of their frustration and fear. News of comrades’ deaths elsewhere saps morale; the unspoken thirst for revenge later plays into a scene that caused national outrage when the film was released in Denmark.

It’s here that Armadillo comes into its own. The filmmakers refuse to let their affection for the men — from the shy, homesick Mads to bull-brave platoon leader Rasmus — gloss over the tough stuff. Crops are trampled, livestock maimed, and mortar rounds go astray, all culminating in one of the most ferocious scenes you’ll see this year. Have the rules of engagement been broken? Are these men heroes or villains? Should they even be there at all? But whatever you think of the war or even the men’s actions, it’s impossible not to care for them and the suffering Afghans equally. Among Armadillo’s edge-of-the-seat tensions and acute insights, this is surely its greatest achievement.


Verdict
Moving, complex and brutal, it’s an outstanding film about men at war.


Reviewed by Phil de Semlyen

Write Your Review
To write your review please login or register.

Your Reviews

Average user rating for Armadillo
Empire Star Rating

Incredible!

Maybe I'm biased, because I'm Danish, but this is an extraordinary film from a country that has produced a lot of crap. It is well worth five stars! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by kasper_t at 19:09, 15 April 2011 | Report This Post



CURRENT HIGHLIGHTS
Empire Meets The Stars Of Me And Earl And The Dying Girl
On the Sundance smash, bedroom posters and Nick Offerman

10 Star Wars: The Force Awakens Toys You’ll Want To Own
Falcon quad copter? BB-8 Sphero? We’re already asking for pay raises…

Wes Craven: Film By Film
Empire celebrates the late, great horror director

My Movie Life: Andrew Haigh
The 45 Years director on the movies that made him

Vanity Projects: The Musical Edition
A dozen more hits and misses from the rock and pop world

Inside The Martian: Empire Meets NASA
Prepare to science the shit out of it...

Deadpool: A Complete History
Empire's guide to The Merc With A Mouth, in comics and on screen

Subscribe to Empire magazine
Empire print magazine

Delivered to your door – with exclusive subscriber only covers each month! Save money today and

Subscribe now!

Subscribe to Empire iPad edition
Empire digital magazine

Exclusive and enhanced content – get instant access via your iPad or Android device! Save money today and

Subscribe now!

Subscribe now and save up to 63%
Print, Digital & Package options available Subscribe today!
Empire's Film Studies 101 Series
Everything you ever wanted to know about filmmaking but were afraid to ask...
The Empire Digital Edition
With exclusive extras, interactive features, trailers and much more! Download now
Home  |  News  |  Blogs  |  Reviews  |  Future Films  |  Features  |  Interviews  |  Images  |  Competitions  |  Forum  |  Digital Edition  |  Podcast  |  Magazine Contact Us  |  Empire FAQ  |  Subscribe To Empire  |  Register
© Bauer Consumer Media Ltd  |  Legal Info  |  Editorial Complaints  |  Privacy Policy  |  Bauer Entertainment Network
Bauer Consumer Media Ltd (company number 01176085 and registered address 1 Lincoln Court, Lincoln Road, Peterborough, England PE1 2RF)