“We’ve seen this somewhere before,” mutters one of the young conscripts as they face yet another combat-hardened officer, and such déjà vu is likely to be shared by viewers – Russia’s Best Foreign Film nom for Oscar ’07 suffering more than a passing resemblance to Platoon and Full Metal Jacket.
The types that populate 9th Company are drawn from across the Soviet Union: romantic Vorobey (Alexey Chadov), artistic Dzhakonda (Konstantin Kryukov), and streetwise Lyutiy (Artur Smolyaninov). After the dehumanising agony of basic training, they’re shipped off to ’80s Afghanistan, where they come under ferocious attack.
Director Fyodor Bondarchuk handles the action sequences impressively but relies heavily on a bombastic orchestral score and slow-motion effects, while the film’s nationalistic sentiments ensure the enemy remains faceless and fanatical.
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