Sand Castle (2017)
Starring: Nicholas Hoult, Logan Marshall-Green and Glen Powell
Directed by: Fernando Coimbra
Set during the occupation of Iraq in 2003 a small platoon are sent to a village to help fix the water pipes which were inadvertently destroyed. Organising the distribution of water and reconstruction of the the plumbing becomes a huge challenge within a war environment surrounded by potential enemies.
Sand Castle is quite a hard movie to write a review on as this isn’t your run of the mill wartime movie. There are no epic action sequences and the plot isn’t your regular ‘mission to win the war/save the world’ either. It’s quite a slow drawn out story about some of the harsh realities of the Iraqi war.
Nicholas Hoult stars as Private Ocre who isn’t a brave person, he joined the army before the terror attacks of 9/11 because he needed the money and didn’t anticipate that he’d actually be sent to a war zone. Whilst there he tries to injure himself by slamming his hand in the door of one of the armoured Hummers to avoid serving but doesn’t prevail. As his squad gets called upon to do some routine missions he begins to feel the camaraderie with his fellow soldiers. They are then sent to aide a local village get their water supply back after it was damaged during an aerial attack, with this looking like a good propaganda piece for the press the decision makers are insistent that this mission be a successful one. During a bit of a rollercoaster ride while within the compounds of the Iraqi village Private Ocre seems to find himself wanting to stay and help and become a part of change.
Nicholas Hoult does brilliantly well in displaying such a range of different emotions as Pvt. Matt Ocre which shows just how versatile an actor he truly is. I really believe he is going to be a major star in Hollywood for many years to come. He also has support from an experienced group of actors which included Henry Cavill, Logan Marshall-Green and Tommy Flanagan who each produce fine displays in their own right.
As mentioned the story was quite slow which gives the movie that added realism, similar to how Jarhead portrayed war in successfully showcasing war isn’t all killing, explosions and firefights. The movie was well written by Chris Rossener who is a Special Operations Iraq War veteran which makes the story so much more believable and adds a great deal of authenticity as he was writing from experience.
Overall, while not delivering a huge amount of action which in all honesty is what I was expecting before watching this movie, Sand Castle more than makes up for in grittiness and displays a realistic portrayal of a soldier during the Iraq war. Sand Castle is also an example of the ability Netflix now has to continuously produce quality movies.