[minor spoilers] 
In the Ghazni Province in Afghanistan, a special forces team meet CIA agent Benjamin Keynes, who tells them they are to find an important Afghan cleric called Mohammed Aban and interview him. They arrive at a village, recruit a guide called Abdul and find the cleric, but it seems that wasn’t the real mission at all and Keynes has been keeping things from his team. The real mission involves a trip into the remote desert and an investigation into strange phenomena…….
I’d never even heard of The Objective until a few months ago when Ross and Matt both reviewed it-if I did here of it before I quickly forgot about it! On reading up on the movie,it seems it barely got a cinema release- in the US, it was only released in one cinema nationwide, and of course went straight to DVD here in the UK. I had a feeling that the movie would turn out to be rather good when I finally obtained it and I was right, this is a fascinating and brave film which does share many similarities with Daniel Myrick’s earlier The Blair With Project. Yes this one does also involve lost characters doing a great deal of wandering around, and there are even parallel scenes such as the coming across of a ripped apart body. To my mind though this a much better and certainly more resonant film which dares to ask even more questions and then not answer them. Now I personally love it when films do this, though it’s easy to see why people would be unsatisfied. I don’t actually think the film’s that oblique, I spotted [or think I spotted] clues throughout, but one thing is certain-I can’t stop thinking it, and to me that means it’s a very good movie, even if it does have some flaws.
I’ll say this straight away-this will disappoint if you expect a typical horror movie or a typical war movie-there is some gun action and there are some scares, but mostly this is a quiet, almost trance-inducing film. I love films that do this to me, that suck me in, make me relaxed and but maybe kind of put me on edge at the same time, and get my head buzzing with ideas. I helps that the depiction of the US military feels very authentic, from the way they talk to the way they carry their guns-hardly a surprise when some of the cast actually are soldiers. Things progress very slowly, but almost from the outset there’s a terrific atmosphere of uncertainty that just grows and grows. Now The Blair Witch Project didn’t really grip me nor did it especially scare me, but I got really tense watching this movie, to the point where even a scene of people walking into a cave had me on edge, and where the arrival of a barely seen helicopter is, for some reason, actually quite frightening. One bit where a guy sees, through binoculars, a man suddenly surrounded by other ‘men’ almost had me wetting myself. It helped immensely that there was little shakycam, despite one guy filming what is going on. Even the gun fights, although they have an ‘immediate’ quality to them, are still easy to make out, showing that most of these directors who obviously think that to make you feel like you’re ‘in’ the action they have to bounce the camera about, are a bit dumb.
The fantastical elements do increase, with even a few special effects [not great but they serve their purpose], but hardly anything is actually explained, with a final scene that I initially thought was stupid. It seemed at first that they couldn’t end the movie and filmed whatever someone came up with first, but maybe it just intentionally suggests a whole new area of possibilities? Now I’m trying to avoid major spoilers in this review, but mild ones are hard to avoid when talking about a film like this, however I think even by picking up the DVD cover and reading the back, not to mention reading some of the reviews around that point out similarities to The X Files, you’ll think this movie is about aliens, and there are certainly hints to that, with obvious allusions to fascinating ideas brought up by a certain writer in the 70s. I’m wandering though if that was a red herring, as it seemed to me, as someone quite interested in myths and legends, that ancient Arabic mythology was more of an influence on some of the concepts and even some of the scenes in the movie. If you enjoy this film though, the chances are that either your explanations will be totally different to mine, or you’ll just be scratching your head, confused, but in a good way.
Now, aside from old film noirs, I don’t really like narration in movies. It’s obvious that they were aiming for an Apocalypse Now [a rare film where I do think it works] feel in this film with Jonas Bell’s narration, but it doesn’t really as he doesn’t have the voice for it. It’s not a huge distraction, but a little irritating at first. Bell isn’t too great as the lead and seems far too young for his character anyway, but as a whole the cast of unknowns do fare quite well. Kays Al-Atrakchi provides a really interesting score tinged with Arabic sounds, there was one occasion I thought it was too in-your-face but it mostly works really well and probably works as a really atmospheric listening experience on its own. In the end The Objective isn’t quite a neglected classic, but it’s far too good to have disappeared into relative obscurity and really will [as long as you like this type of movie of course] get you thinking if you surrender to it. Which of course, has got to be a good thing!