Canadian war movie really hits the mark

Photo via Elevation Pictures
Photo via Elevation Pictures

‘Hyena Road’ movie review

By Lauren Paulsen, Senior Columnist


“In Afghanistan, even the dirt is hostile.”

Hyena Road is a new Canadian war film written, directed, and produced by Paul Gross. It is a portrayal of what it was like for Canadian soldiers fighting in Afghanistan, and it gives viewers a glimpse at how things weren’t all black and white during this war.

Gross plays Pete, an intelligence operative searching for a man known as The Ghost. He thinks this man can help them fight against the Taliban. Rossif Sutherland plays Ryan, an eager young soldier who thinks one bullet can change the outcome of the war. The Ghost, a character based on a real person, is played by Niamatullah Arghandabi. All have different ideas, but all want peace and to stop the Taliban.

I absolutely loved this movie. It gave such a realistic portrayal of what I imagine it was like for our soldiers in Afghanistan that I nearly forgot that it was a fictional story. However, although it might be classified as fictional, it is based upon the thousands of stories that people—Canadians and Afghans alike—told Gross while he was visiting troops in Afghanistan in 2010.

I think the action sequences were one of the movie’s biggest assets. There isn’t a whole lot of fancy camera-work done during these scenes; instead, a lot of it is done on foot and follows the characters around, sometimes even being shaky. I later found out that this was because there wasn’t a whole lot of time, or a very large budget, to make this movie, but it absolutely worked wonders for the action shots. It made it very immediate, and sometimes hectic, mimicking what I imagine a warzone is like.

The actors also did a wonderful job. All were very convincing as real people, creating empathy in the viewer, and pulling us in so we became attached. From the heart-warming performance of Christine Home as Jennifer to Allan Hawco’s good-natured acting as Travis, all of the actors complimented each other wonderfully. The cast was amazing.

Also to be praised is the way that the movie makes us look at this war. Without giving anything away, I can say that it totally shows how everything was in greyscale instead of black and white when it came to this war. Sometimes awful things had to happen to achieve a better result in the big picture.

I haven’t seen many war movies focused on Canadian efforts, and I felt that this movie really filled the niche well. After Passchendaele, Gross wasn’t planning on writing another war movie. Boy, am I really glad that he did.

This movie is definitely a must see.