Movie Review: Sand Castle (2017)

Originally released in April 2017 as a Netflix original, Sand Castle is a semi-biographical war drama, directed by Fernando Coimbra. Matt Ocre (Nicholas Hoult) is a Private in the Iraq War in early 2003, under the guide of Staff Sergeant Harper (Logan Marshall-Green). Ocre’s platoon is sent to repair and restore a water pump outside the city of Baqubah, which is currently run by Special Forces Officer Captain Syverson (Henry Cavill).

+ great cast and acting, especially from Hoult and Marshall-Green. Cavill has a strong presence about him, which makes him a believable leader (not to mention he looks great in a tight shirt). The rest of Ocre’s platoon, including Chutsky (Glen Powell), Burton (Beau Knapp) ad Enzo (Neill Brown Jr.) make for a diverse, and relateable group
+ the film never glorifies war, but also never makes it appear as bad as I am sure it is. You will go between ‘why does America have to get involved at all’ and ‘just let the Americans help you, dammit’ without ever feeling forced to choose a side
+ the tension builds at a solid pace until the payoff, whatever that may be. There is constant tension, from every background extra, which I assume is what trained soldiers have to keep an eye on. Firefights are not overdone, and every bullet feels like it could be important
+ there is a small guitar piece on most dramatic scene transitions which made me expect to hear ‘Deadman’s Gun’ from Red Dead Redemption at any moment. The whole feel of the movie was somewhere between hopeful and horribly depressing

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Nicholas Hoult (left) as Private Matt Ocre, with Logan Marhshall-Green as Staff Sergeant Harper.

Should you see this film: I really enjoyed this, in the same way I enjoyed Jarhead and The Hurt Locker, both of which were led by a very strong main performance. A really solid lead performance, a cast of characters you will grow attached to, and a story that never gets bogged down in politics all made for a well above average war movie.

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