Thursday, December 4, 2008
“My name is Benjamin Keynes. I work for the Directorate of Operations within the Central Intelligence Agency.
“Three days after 9/11, reconnaissance satellites picked up a radioactive heat signature in a remote tribal region of Afghanistan.
“The Agency feared that Al-Qaeda may have finally gotten their hands on a nuclear weapon. However, I was told by a local source with a high degree of confidence that it may be something much more powerful.”
After the disappointment that was Solstice (review in Archive), I put a lot of stock on The Objective as a film that would turn me around on Daniel Myrick.
I’m glad to report that it does.
We open in Ghazni Province, the date, November 2001.
Benjamin Keynes (The Killing of John Lennon’s Jonas Ball) has been tasked by the CIA to lead Special Forces Team 392 on a mission deep into Afghanistan to find one Mohammed Aban, a cleric considered by the locals to be the “spiritual force that helped the Mujahadeen defeat the Soviets.”
All else is on a need-to-know basis, and it’s this veil of military secrecy that fuels the mystery of The Objective.
Co-writing the script with Mark A. Patton and Wesley Clark, Jr., Myrick successfully captures the feeling of a squad of soldiers in enemy territory, off on a trek whose exact nature is kept from them by the Powers That Be (of which Keynes is the on-the-ground representative).
Assisted by DP Stephanie Martin, Myrick conjures the harsh beauty of the inhospitable terrain of this foreign country, effectively utilizing Morocco as locale stand-in, while Kays Al-Atrakchi’s music drapes the film’s soundscape with a disturbing score that heightens the scenario’s unsettling strangeness.
It’s these elements more than anything else—elements certainly more potent than your average Hollywood thriller’s over-dependence on CGI and epileptic editing—that make The Objective such a noteworthy triumph.
There’s also a good cast here, made up of unfamiliar faces, who deliver largely natural, straight-forward performances, which is, in the end, the key to keeping the audience involved while the weird sh!t gradually asserts itself over the film’s goings-on.
Do they reek the Hollywood hardcase Special Forces air we’ve come to expect from the movies and television? Perhaps not, but they do come across as real people, and that’s a big plus for a film like this.
Beyond that, I really shouldn’t say much more, other than that The Objective is ultimately about a government’s hunger for power, and how all else falls by the wayside in light of that all-encompassing yearning for the upper hand.
And while this isn’t the sort of film where everything’s neatly underlined and explained—the atmosphere and tantalizing bits are the tools for the audience to piece together the big picture—this is a solid cinematic experience which plays much better than The Blair Witch Project (which Myrick co-directed with Eduardo Sánchez), and is decidedly light years better than Solstice.
Now, I’m most definitely looking forward to Myrick’s next film.
Parting shot: Aside from containing a review of Solstice, the Archive also houses a review of Eduardo Sánchez’s Altered.
(The Objective OS courtesy of shocktillyoudrop.com and images courtesy of availableimages.com.)