Movie preview: The Outpost

Today is the day that a new movie about key events in the Afghanistan war is being released. What makes this film of potential interest to our audience is the intersection between history, politics, current events, and the media. The Outpost covers a significant span of our nation’s efforts in Afghanistan but focuses in particular on Combat Outpost Keating. The movie was based on the book of the same title, The Outpost: An Untold Story of American Valor by CNN host Jake Tapper, who is also an executive producer on the film. It stars Orlando Bloom, Scott Eastwood, and Caleb Landry Jones, among others.

I conducted a fascinating interview with Tapper about the film that you should have been watching this morning, but which was unfortunately eaten by Skype without producing a usable recording. Still, he provided some good background on the road that led to the production of the movie. Jake reports that the film follows the events in his book as well as could be expected when attempting to crunch a 400-page tome into a couple of hours of film. A few specific events are moved out of their actual sequence to fully tell the story, but the tale is accurate.

The outpost in question was surrounded by mountains, giving the Taliban the literal and figurative higher ground. They eventually took advantage of that fact in one of the bloodiest days for the United States in the entire war. It also explores the task assigned to our soldiers, that of winning the “hearts and minds” of the locals while fending off the Taliban fighters who were not interested in a debate. The movie is coming out at a time when the nation is facing the possibility of finally pulling out of that country, though Tapper reminded me that his book wasn’t about politics. It was about the reality on the ground, an aspect reflected well in the film.

We also discussed how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected both the production schedules and release dates of film and television projects. In the case of The Outpost, those decisions were made several degrees of separation from Jake Tapper, but it was definitely a consideration. In the end, the film is being released in select theaters at the same time as it’s being made available on various cable on-demand services, as well as Amazon Prime and direct streaming outlets. By the time you read this report, it should already be available.

We also discussed Jake’s second book, The Hellfire Club. While this project is still over the horizon, that book is also currently being developed as a screenplay for eventual release as a multi-part series on HBO Max. No date of release is available at this time, but it was another great book. It’s a work of fiction but set in a very real and fascinating era of Washington history and the events consuming the nation in the 1950s.