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The Objective

Year: 2006
Production Co: Jaz Films
Director: Daniel Myrick
Writer: Daniel Myrick/Mark A Patton/Wesley Clark Jr

There's a line between explaining everything and leaving things to end with an enigma. There's a line between horror and action. There's a line between realistic and stylised.

This film quite brilliantly skirts them all. Ages ago as I write this I lamented the career path of Daniel Myrick, one of the co-creators of the game-changing Blair Witch Project, as both he and co-director Eduardo Sanchez had seemed to drop the ball badly by not releasing something - anything - else when they could have owned Hollywood.

Instead Myrick waited almost ten years and made what must have been the unluckiest movie since Zyzzyx Road, released in a single theatre for five days, it earned $95 back from it's $8m budget.

A less fair fate could not be wrought on such a cool film. As near as I can approximate (and this is not a spoiler as I have no idea if it's accurate), the US government has identified an area of remote Afghanistan where the spirit of Mohammed reappears to supernatural and deadly effect.

A CIA operative is embedded with a tough special ops team in the days following September 11. His cover story is to search for a weapon, but when strange phenomena appear, from lights in the middle of the night to strange, shimmering figures visible in their night vision scopes, it's obvious there's something else going on.

As the team gets more and more lost in the uncharted mountains, desperation and frustration run to breaking point, the spook unwilling to give away more than he has to while trying to assure the soldiers that all their lives are worth it.

There's a very strong sense of 'oh my God, what the hell was that?', but far less a sense of 'oh, so that's what that is', which makes for a slightly frustrating resolution but doesn't detract form the quality in realism, location and dialogue.

Employing a documentary style with a blemishless, clean film stock that brings the endless dusty steppes to life beautifully, the building tension and occasional clues about what they face are applied with good timing and the result is an urgent, effective thriller.

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