Movie review: “The Hornet’s Nest” gives a raw look at combat

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From the May 22, 2014 edition

As war documentaries go, “The Hornet’s Nest” is straightforward and simple. It’s a very workmanlike film, but it’s not your average “take your kid to work” day.

Lifelong war journalist Mike Boettcher has spent his life in some of the worst, most dangerous places on earth. As Mike is about to return to an assignment embedded with U.S. troops in Afghanistan, he is joined by his adult son Carlos.

“The Hornet’s Nest” lacks a strong enough narrative to land among the great war documentaries, but the rawness of its footage is hypnotic and immersive. This is as close to war as many of you are likely to get, and the tension as bullets whiz by on an Afghan hillside is palpable.

Directors David Salzberg and Christian Tureaud piece together the amazing footage captured by the Boettchers into an interesting look into combat, though they tend to shy from a larger examination of the war.

“Hornet’s Nest” tends to take a middle-of-the-road approach to the Afghan war, and you’ll likely read in whatever political leanings you bring to the table. It is neither a pro-war propaganda piece nor a critique on the horrors of war. But it’s worth your time.