Riding high on the success of Plane, Gerard Butler returns with Kandahar (previously known as Mission Kandahar), his second action-packed feature of 2023. Reuniting with director Ric Roman Waugh (Angel Has Fallen, Greenland), Butler takes on the role of Tom Harris, an undercover CIA operative deeply entrenched in the hostile territory of Afghanistan. When a leak exposes his true identity and mission, Tom finds himself in a race against time alongside his translator Mohammad “Mo” Doud (played by Negahban) to make it to the extraction point in Kandahar, all while being relentlessly pursued by elite special forces. While not the most outstanding collaboration between Butler and Waugh, Kandahar rides on Butler’s recent string of successes, with both the star and director elevating the film to a respectable and entirely watchable action thriller.
While Tom may not be Butler’s most fleshed-out character, the actor injects more emotion and depth into the role than what is on the page, engaging audiences and evoking genuine care for his well-being. Negahban delivers a stellar performance as Mo, the film’s most compelling character, whose storyline carries a tragic weight. The chemistry between Butler and Negahban is undeniably strong, effectively selling their on-screen friendship and the evolving bond between them through heartfelt and surprisingly poignant scenes. Fimmel, portraying Roman Chalmers, manages to make the most of his role, stealing scenes with his cocky energy and likeable charisma.
While the action sequences may not be groundbreaking, they are well-executed and thoroughly entertaining, with the film culminating in an action-packed and satisfying climax. However, where Kandahar falters is in its inability to generate the level of excitement, tension, and thrills expected from a film with this premise. While never boring, the movie fails to establish significant stakes, ultimately working against its overall impact. Additionally, the first act suffers from a dragging pace and convoluted plot, burdened by the introduction of extraneous storylines and characters that serve little purpose. Although the film’s two-hour running time passes without feeling overly long, it could have benefitted from a tighter edit or more focus on the relationship between Tom and Mo.
Ultimately, Kandahar presents itself as a decent watch, especially for action enthusiasts. While it doesn’t reinvent the genre or offer anything groundbreaking, it satisfies as a solid three-star action thriller, ideal for a matinee or rental viewing. While not among Gerard Butler’s most remarkable films, fans of the actor will still find Kandahar worth their attention. Visit myflixer movies for more!