December 27, 2019  (Web Review)

The Kill Team

Lionsgate, 87 min., R, DVD: $19.99, Blu-ray: $21.99, Dec. 24

Reviewer rating: 3.0/4

Writer-director Dan Krauss returns to the Maywand District incident of 2009-10, in which a squadron of American soldiers in Afghanistan’s Kandahar Province killed local civilians and then restaged the scene to create the impression that their victims were terrorist attackers. In his identically titled 2013 documentary, Krauss focused on Adam Winfield, one of the soldiers, who struggled with participating in the killings but ultimately succumbed to the pressure put on him by his sergeant—and was convicted, along with his comrades, of war crimes. Now Krauss dramatizes the story, calling Winfield Andy Briggman (Nat Wolff), who is presented as a gung-ho recruit whose father (Rob Morrow) is a former Marine. His squad’s new sergeant, Deeks, is portrayed by Alexander Skarsgård as a deceptively soft-spoken, serenely confident manipulator who regales his men with tales of kills he’s made and insists that those under his command should set aside conventional rules of ethics and follow his murderous example. Wars are won by killing, he says, and the squad should enjoy winning. The Kill Team follows a formula that is sadly familiar from other films about America’s recent wars, but Krauss secures fine performances, especially from Wolff and Skarsgård, and he makes a powerful statement about the stress that soldiers face in modern combat. Recommended. (F. Swietek)