I have 460 movies in my Netflix Instant queue. I tend to watch one thing for every five that I add, but now my library is close to being full and I have to make room. So, every Monday I’m going to pick a random movie out of my queue and review the shit out of it. But (like Jesus), I’m also thinking of you and your unwieldy queue and all the movies in it you want to watch but no longer have the time to now that you’ve become so awesome and popular. Let me know what has been gathering digital dust in your Netflix Instant library and I’ll watch that, too. One Monday for you and the next for me and so on. Let’s get to it.
What’s the movie? The Objective (2008)
What’s it rated? Unrated for manly men manning about, a harsh word or two and metaphysical hi-jinks in the Middle East.
Did people make it? Written by Daniel Myrick, Mark A. Patton and Wesley Clark. Directed by Daniel Myrick. Acted by Jonas Ball, Matthew R. Anderson, Jon Huertas, Michael C. Williams, Sam Hunter, Jeff Prewett, Kenny Taylor and Chems-Eddine Zinoune.
What’s it like in one sentence? Blair Witch Project in the desert.
Why did you watch it? Well, last week we did Altered (directed by Blair Witch Project co-director Eduardo Sanchez) and Chewer sawalter1 recommended we do a film by Blair Witch’s other co-director, Daniel Myrick. Thus, The Objective was watched.
What’s it about in one paragraph? A CIA operative hooks up with a Special Ops team in Afghanistan in order to track down an Afghan cleric named Mohammad Aban, who might have some information about some disturbing satellite photos. Intel has it that somewhere in a remote and holy region of Afghanistan, there are large triangular structures that the Agency is afraid might be some kind of nuclear launch facility and the team is the only group in country who can make it there in time to find out the truth. As they cross the desert and their sanity starts quickly seeping away, the men will have to face their own worst nightmares, the brutal heat of the desert and their own machismo in order to survive.
Play or remove from my queue? It’s worth playing, if only for the mood it sets. I watched this one a few days ago and (since this was the closing weekend of a play I was acting in) have only had a chance to do the write-up this morning. As I sat down to think about The Objective, I couldn’t really remember much of the plot or character details, but the feelings it left in me were still there. As the CIA spook, six Green Berets and an Afghan translator\guide trek across the desert to find a holy man, the dread builds up so slowly and palpably that I actually found myself starting to feel pretty anxious and uncomfortable. The further the men get into the mountains towards their destination, the weirder shit starts getting and the more dangerous every moment is and Daniel Myrick does an excellent job building that tension and creating an environment that truly feels dangerous. I truly don’t understand why Myrick and Sanchez haven’t had more stellar careers post-Witch because, between this and Altered, they really know how to direct a compelling film.
The acting is mostly strong across the board with the CIA operative easily being the most interesting character. He’s a secretive douche, but when you find out everything he knows by the end, it makes pretty good sense why he wouldn’t tell any of the men what the real purpose of the mission is. Jonas Ball’s performance felt a little wooden to me at first, but by the finale he had me convinced it was a choice he made for the character and I was able to appreciate the subtlety of what he was doing. Jon Huertas is also a standout as a member of the Special Forces unit. He’s a little bit wasted in an underwritten role, but I projected my love of him from Generation Kill and Castle onto the character and it made him feel like an old friend. I’m fucking strange. The film is only 90 minutes long, so with eight characters roaming the frame, it’s hard to get really invested in any of them, but there’s just enough character work done to at least be able to tell them all apart.
As they move across the desert towards their destination, they start getting fucked with by an unseen force that makes their water reserve turn into sand and eats the remains of their dead. The way it slowly starts picking away at them and leaving their sanity shredded reminded me a lot of The Blair Witch Project and how the Witch seemed to be toying with them and getting lots of enjoyment from their terror. I wouldn’t say The Objective is derivative of Blair Witch, but it’s also not a very large departure either. I didn’t enjoy this as much as Altered (which just felt blazingly fresh) or as much as Myrick’s previous effort The Believers (which had an amazing performance by Daniel Benzali anchoring it) but it’s still very much worth watching for the powerful mood setting, the amazing Moroccan scenery and a batshit ending that’s so random it almost made me want to go back to the beginning to see what I missed. Almost.
Do you have a favorite line? I honestly can’t think of one and I didn’t write anything down during my initial viewing. Some of the voice-over dialogue from the CIA operative was really overwritten and hilarious, so I bet there was something there. Fail.
Do you have an interesting fun-fact? This movie made $95.00 on its opening weekend. It only opened on one screen, but still…
What does Netflix say I’d like if I like this? The Skeptic (Tim Daly and Tom Arnold Vs. ghosts. This can’t be good, can it?), Autumn (the user reviews are awful. Anyone know any different?), Medicine For Melancholy (Netflix isn’t even recommending shit in the same genre anymore? Wyatt Cenac from The Daily Show is in this so it might be worth a minute), Tron:Legacy (I’d like Netflix’s rationale for this recommendation) and Fragments (I love me some Forest Whitaker).
What does Jared say I’d like if I like this? El Topo? Generation Kill? Peyote?
What is Netflix’s best guess for Jared? 2.8
What is Jared’s best guess for Jared? 3.0
Can you link to the movie? I sure can!
Any last thoughts? It’s not the best and it’s not the worst. It’s just a curious little oddity that somewhat defies logic and reason with its wonky ass ending and its plucky, can-do spirit. If you’ve got nothing better, this will do just fine.
Did you watch anything else this week? I watched a film called The Scenesters which was shaping up to be one of my favorites of the year until it shit the bed all over its ending. Also got caught up on Supernatural and The Vampire Diaries. Fuck your judgments.
Next Week? I have a question for y’all. I really enjoyed jumping from Altered to The Objective because of their connection. Would you guys be cool with jumping to movies with connecting tissue from now on (like actors or directors or even if it’s one of the five recommendations at the bottom) or do you like being able to pop over to any movie you guys want? I’m just wondering if this column needs more of a thread to follow or if its free-wheeling nature suits it best. If you want to go the connected route, there’s the five movies I mentioned above in the Netflix Recommendations or we can follow actor Jonas Ball over to his film The Killing of John Lennon or we can follow actor Matt Anderson over to the Sci-Fi vehicle Hardwired, starring Cuba Gooding Jr. and Val Kilmer. If you don’t want to go the connected route then we can do whatever we’d like.