Title: Sand Castle
Director: Fernando Coimbra
Starring: Nicholas Hoult, Logan Marshall-Green, Henry Cavill
Runtime: 1 Hour 53 Minutes
What It Is: Based on the screenplay by Chris Roessner, the story focuses on Matt Ocre (Nicholas Hoult) involved in the mission of repairing a broken water system in a dangerous village in Iraq. Baghdad did accept Americans at the time, but the target village refused. Matt and his team must strive and fight for the local community to complete their mission.
What We Think: Rather than trying to make a political statement I found Sand Castle much more a coming-of-age bullet storm as the smoke of war becomes almost aromatic over time. Oppression and anger blend with paranoia and it’s this that Hoult must try to navigate as a fresh-faced warrior, targeted just for helping.
Coimbra sets Sand Castle apart from bloodier war epics by focusing on cultural tensions, not heavy-fire action. This is Baghdad on a budget. Shootouts only burst when completely necessary, and even when they do, shots are traded from sandy ridges or rocky terrain.
In the latter-stage ambush, the camera sticks to framing Hoult and Beau Knapp as they rattle off return-fire rounds in the direction of enemy pops, never flipping the camera to reveal their attackers. Importance is put on character mindsets which weighs sacrifice against a losing battle that continues to sap every last ounce of energy they have. Engineering hardships and failed bartering replace high-octane assassination missions, only so Hoult’s rookie can experience the gamut of emotions one experiences when thrust into a hostile situation.
Our Grade: D, Overall it begs one obvious question – why now? I have no idea why this film even needed to be made. Performances are fine, but not good enough to salvage an otherwise years-late look into criticisms now preached for years. It’s another walk in landmine park for audiences. It’s a wartime drama that is too little, too late and too repetitive and it simplifies Americans as gun loving maniacs. I felt it could have avoided such stereotypes the likes of which we have seen before a million times.