A country that is back in the news once again and for all the wrong reasons. Afghanistan, with the United States in the process of withdrawing its troops, seems to be falling under the rule of the Taliban. A reason for the citizens of the country and, honestly, the world to worry about. Afghanistan has, as a country, been in a state of turmoil and war for decades. Russian director Pavel Lungin’s (The Conductor) film is about an Afghanistan of the near past.
In 1988-89 Russia was in the process of leaving Afghanistan after years of fighting there. The Soviet-Afghan War is pretty much done. The Soviet troops are withdrawing. During this time a pilot has his plane go down and he is taken hostage by Afghanis. More than usual attention is paid to his disappearance as he is the son of a Soviet General – General Vasilyev (Vitaliy Kishchenko – Mathilde).
The members of the 108th Motor Rifle Division are called in to attempt the search and rescue of the kidnapped pilot, Alexander (Vyacheslav Shikhaleev – The Red Ghost). It will be one last mission for these men and an important one.
The film is based on real events and a previously untold story. Using the memoirs of Nikolay Kovalyov, it is a film which shows a rather complex side of war we don’t often get to see. We see the usual courage, danger and tragedy involved in war films, but we also investigate human nature. Heavy realism here. The good, the bad and the ugly. Morality and motivation. On both sides. How little human life is valued at during war. Often heartwrenching reminder of a past war in the war torn country of Afghanistan. A side is not taken, rather the truth is sought after.