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THE OBJECTIVE - 2008
USA Release: Feb. 6, 2009
Jaz Films, Darclight, Sherezade Film Development, Gearhead Pictures Production, Kasbah Films, IFC Films
Rating: USA: R

Looking at a desert mountain from the air, a man calling himself Benjamin Keynes (Jonas Ball: RADIO MARY) tells us that he works as an asset for the Directorate of the Central Intelligence Agency. 3 days after 9/11, a satellite picked up an unexplained heat signature in a remote tribal region of Afghanistan.

The fear is that Al Qaida may have finally got their hands on a nuclear weapon.

Benjamin's own contacts, however, have told him with a high degree of confidence, that it may be something much more powerful.

To find out what, Benjamin must find an old contact, a Holy man named Mohammed Aban.

His mission is to go in country to meet with Aban and find whatever is making the hotspot. The hotspot is his Objective.

Assigned as a Major, he arrives in Ghanzi Province, Afghanistan in November 2001. The U.S. invaded only a month earlier when the Taliban refused to extradite Osama bin Laden. Benjamin hasn't been there since 1991.

He meets with the Spec-Ops soldiers who will accompany and protect him on his mission.

So begins our

Roll Call -

Sgt. Wallace Hamer (Actor & Stunt Man, Matthew R. Anderson: MUTANT SPECIES, DEAD OF NIGHT, STRANGELAND, VENOMOUS, BEOWULF [2007], ALIEN RAIDERS, MUTANT VAMPIRE ZOMBIES FROM THE HOOD, CHUPACABRA TERROR, ABSENCE, THE LAST SENTINEL, CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER, THE DEAD UNDEAD, JACK COUNTY DEMONS, VENOM, BEYOND WHITE SPACE), the Team Leader.
Sgt. Trinoski (Michael C. Williams: THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT, ALTERED). While he's on this mission, his wife back home is expecting their baby any minute now.
Sgt. Vincent Degetau (Jon Huertas: COLD HEARTS, RIGHT AT YOUR DOOR, THE INSATIABLE [2006], BELIEVERS, INITIATION). Every group has a wise-ass and he's it.

Others round out the crew. They notice Keynes military grade Infrared video camera that he keeps with him at all times, and they openly wonder what its for in a wide open place like this. What does he expect to record at night?

Keynes hasn't told them why he's there. His objective is secret and they don't have the Need To Know.

What they do know just by looking at his odd camera is,

"He didn't get that at the PX."

A visit to Aban's village reveals the old man has fled to the sacred Dashtun mountains to avoid the Taliban. Not even the Taliban would dare enter such a holy place. Afghan village leaders confirms the whereabouts of the holy man and a local young man named Abdul (Chems-Eddine Zinoune) agrees to help.

The trip to and into the mountains is fraught with danger, bombs, and traps. All of this in addition to natural dangers of "the most unforgiving place on earth".

If THE OBJECTIVE was simply a war movie, that would be horrific enough. But as the group gets lost in the mountains, the terrain changes, nearly before their eyes.

A deadly firefight result in one of their own getting hit by a fragmentary grenade. The enemy suffered heavy losses and ran off, yet when the group go to count and identify the bodies, there aren't any.

We saw them die. Where are the bodies?

Weird gets weirder as they go deeper into the holy mountains. Night and day come at all hours, people pass in and out of visibility, water turns to sand, and the mystery of the Dashtun mountains balances on the edge of Science Fiction and Supernatural as one of the soldiers, while on watch, looks through his IR scope and sees beings that he can't see in natural light. They are armed and coming for him and his group, but when he removes the scope and looks right where they should be, there's no one there.

So what is going on? Are they demons? Aliens?

THE OBJECTIVE never answers that question.

Unfortunately they can't evacuate. The base got the call, the helicopters arrived then just vanished into thin air. Gone. After that, there's no finding their position anymore. The terrain changes aren't natural to their movements. The terrain changes even as they just stay in one place. Needless to say this is bad for morale. Strangeness is killing and its never the same thing twice.

TRIVIA

Actor Chems-Eddine Zinoune died in a tragic car accident in his birthplace of Casablanca, Morocco. He died never having the chance to see this movie.


Wikipedia on the mythology of Vimana.

Abdul is losing it.

Morale is dropping and tensions are rising fast with Keynes as their focal point. Aban cannot be found and without him, there's no finding the rendezvous hot spot Objective.

Directed by Daniel Myrick (THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT, SOLSTICE, BELIEVERS, SKYMAN) and written by Daniel, Mark A. Patton, and Wesley Clark, the cast and crew brought a fundamental believability to THE OBJECTIVE as there were so many actual military veterans involved including Patton and Clark (son of General Wesley Clark) as well as Matthew R. Anderson, John Huertas, P. David Miller (BLACK OPS).

Because of this Grounded In Reality style, an audience used to comic book cgi movie eye-candy won't be left wanting by the simple SFX. Movies like the first PARANORMAL ACTIVITY proved that, under the right conditions, the audience can be left screaming over an effect as simple as an off-camera stage hand turning on a light or pulling off a blanket.

As the team members face leaps and bounds of unexplainable attacks, their military procedure breaks down in the face of the seemingly impossible and undefeatable.

It's because the creatures they are dealing with are unique to most audiences - none of your typical monsters or aliens for Myrick, thank you very much - their unpredictability makes them scarier. I didn't have an experience with their strengths and weaknesses to fall back on (Vampires? Got it! Sunlight. Zombies? No problem, hit 'em in the head!).

In so many ways THE OBJECTIVE is one of the freakier "First Contact" movies I've seen. Adding to that are the characters themselves. All the men involved believe themselves Patriots, willing and capable of being heroic. But at least one is ready to define his Patriotism by being a traitorous monster: one with the psychotic confidence in believing that all ends, regardless of how inhumane, eventually justify the means.

As the team's numbers are whittled down, the dwindling survivors are trapped in a Rubik's cube of unforgiving nature, where there is no turning back because there's nowhere to go.

Will anyone survive THE OBJECTIVE?

Four Shriek Girls.

Shriek GirlsShriek GirlsShriek GirlsShriek Girls
This review copyright 2021 E.C.McMullen Jr.

The Objective (2008) on IMDb
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