Sunday, October 11, 2015

Hyena Road: Surprisingly Realistic

Image result for hyena roadMrs. Spew and I watched Hyena Road last night.  It is a Canadian movie depicting the Canadian effort in Kandahar.  Having spent all of four days at the Kandahar Air Field and at Camp Nathan Smith (the smaller base for the provincial reconstruction team in the middle of Kandahar City), I can say that the movie was quite realistic, especially noting the dust that is on everything.

The movie had at its center stuff that may not have been realistic: a desire to bring back an old big name Mujhadeen "the Ghost" to offset the power of the local big man.  But the local big man in the movie was very much drawn to parallel Ahmed Wali Karzai, who was the local power broker getting big bags of cash from the CIA AND the brother of the President.  I am not sure AWK was so willing to play with the Taliban as this movie's bad guy was.  AWK did more to create the Taliban via reacting to his alienation of key tribes rather than actually helping them directly.  He definitely did benefit from an insecure environment, which led to more contracts for the provision of security and such--that the movie got right.

The big glaring mistake, in my eyes, was the portrayal of the Canadian general running the larger effort.  Played by Homicide's Clark Johnson, this general was a bit more brusque and prone to cursing than the generals I have met, and I have met nearly every officer who commanded the Canadian mission in Kandahar.  However, perhaps the language is a bit more salty down range. 

The road in the title was something quite real--that the Canadians spent a great deal of effort to build a road from Kandahar City into the hinterlands, as it would be far harder to put landmines (improvised explosive devices) into the asphalt.  This road would also improve the ability of Afghans to get to market and for the NATO troops to get out to the hinterlands quickly. 

The movie did a pretty good job of demonstrating the frustration with such a complex war, with unreliable allies and that the road to hell, indeed, is paved with good intentions.  Not a bad month for Canadian movies on the war with Kandahar Journals coming out a couple of weeks ago.

Besides being mostly realistic (hockey at both the big base and the smaller one!), it had good drama and tension.  So, I give it four and a half dusty helmets!

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