Company commander Claus Pedersen (Pilou Asbæk) and his men are stationed in an Afghan province. Meanwhile, back in Denmark, Claus' wife Maria (Tuva Novotny) is trying to hold everyday life together with a husband at war and three children missing their father. During a routine mission, the soldiers are caught in heavy crossfire and in order to save his men, Claus makes a fateful decision that leads to a tragedy that could seriously affect his military career and family life.
If you like your cinema to show some style, give this a body swerve. Grainy, hand-held, fly-on-the-wall, documentary-style filming with no soundtrack music makes this portentously-titled film hard to like. Some enthusiastic reviewers have mistaken its lack of style for intensity. Don’t trust them.
The action switches between soldiering in Afghanistan and a soapy family back home in Sweden before spending the second half of the film in Sweden after the soldiers come home. It’s all very heartfelt and well-intentioned and tackles serious issues about the morality of modern warfare, but the in-your-face approach has been done many times before and alienates rather than involves the viewer, making it difficult to empathise with the characters and their situation.
Morality-of-war films have been around a long time and the excellent Good Kill shows how it can still be done. Judged purely as a movie, A War is dour anti-cinema. The trailer tells the whole story, but watch it first to avoid disappointment.