Register  |   Log In  |  
Sign up to our weekly newsletter    
Search   
Empire Magazine and iPad
Follow Me on Pinterest YouTube Tumblr
Empire
Trending On Empire
The Big 2015 Movie Preview
The 50 Best Films Of 2014
Review Of The Year 2014
Subscribe To Empire!
Get 12 issues from just £25
A perfect night in with EE
Win £200 to spend on the perfect night in
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
Sixteen
3 Star Empire Rating
I Used To Live Here
3 Star Empire Rating
Dark Horse, The
4 Star Empire Rating
Kidnapping Freddy Heineken
2 Star Empire Rating
Broken Horses
3 Star Empire Rating



5 STAR REVIEWS
Still Alice
5 Star Empire Rating
Les Miserables
5 Star Empire Rating
Duke Of Burgundy, The
5 Star Empire Rating
Whiplash
5 Star Empire Rating
Sweet Smell of Success
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
The Fast And Furious Franchise's 7 Most Insane Stunts
In ascending order of madness...

Empire's Fast & Furious 7 Review
We run the rule on the return of Toretto, Hobbs and co

Empire Meets Alison Brie
The Get Hard star on Ken Jeong, Toto and her favourite episode of Community

17 ‘What The?’ TV Cameos From Film Directors
From Spike Jonze as a music exec to Peter Bogdanovich as… himself?

Empire Meets Nikolaj Coster-Waldau
On A Second Chance, Game Of Thrones pranks and Headhunters' poo scene

The Secrets Behind 44 Classic Cinema Sound Effects
No really, the Ringwraiths are actually plastic cups...

The 30 Greatest Superhero Movies Of All Time
Empire readers pick their top super flicks

Subscribe to Empire magazine
Get 12 Issues Of Empire For Only £25!

Get exclusive subscriber-only covers each month!

Subscribe today

Subscribe to Empire iPad edition
Get The Empire iPad Edition Today

Subscribe and save maney on annual digital subscription

Subscribe today
Buy single issues

Get 12 issues of Empire for just £25!
Get exclusive subscriber-only covers each month Subscribe today!
Empire's Film Studies 101 Series
Everything you ever wanted to know about filmmaking but were afraid to ask...
The Empire iPad Edition
With exclusive extras, interactive features, trailers and much more! Download now
Home  |  News  |  Blogs  |  Reviews  |  Future Films  |  Features  |  Interviews  |  Images  |  Competitions  |  Forum  |  iPad  |  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)