Is Kandahar 2023 a True Story? – “Kandahar,” an action thriller set in Afghanistan, tells the tale of Tom Harris, a CIA operative stationed there, who discovers that an unknown party has compromised both his identity and sensitive data related to his mission. Together with his Afghan interpreter, Tom finds himself on the run within Afghanistan. Their ultimate goal is to reach an abandoned former CIA outpost in Kandahar to secure passage on an airplane out of the country. However, their escape remains risky due to an elite military team relentlessly pursuing them.
“Kandahar” features a remarkable cast, including Gerard Butler, Navid Negahban, Ali Fazal, Bhahdor Foladi, Nina Toussaint-White, Vassilis Koukalani, and Mark Arnold, who all play key roles. Director Ric Roman Waugh created an immersive film experience filled with thrilling action sequences while simultaneously portraying the human elements of Middle Eastern turmoil. Tom and his interpreter develop an unlikely bond that defies chaotic conditions, raising the question of whether such relationships could ever form under such circumstances. Let’s delve further together and investigate this intriguing premise and examine its validity.
True Story Behind Kandahar (2023) Film
Ric Roman Waugh’s film, “Kandahar,” is inspired by real events and recounts the experiences of an intelligence officer serving with the Defense Intelligence Agency in Afghanistan.
“Kandahar” heavily draws upon the author’s firsthand experiences as a military intelligence officer during the chaotic Snowden disclosures in 2013. At its core lies Tom Harris, an undercover CIA agent assigned to neutralize a nuclear bomb that threatens an entire city. Though his efforts prove successful, he becomes hunted by elite soldiers of Afghanistan.
Tom Harris embarks on his latest mission with an interpreter from Kandahar, searching for an abandoned CIA base as their extraction point, hoping to arrive before it’s too late. Their journey takes them over 400 miles through treacherous terrain. Along the way, they face time constraints and perils as they struggle to return before extraction becomes necessary.
“Kandahar” captures the essence of an exciting CIA mission while adding a captivating twist that generates tension throughout. The knowledge that the screenplay was written by someone with direct experience in hazardous missions only heightens our anticipation to see the end product.
Waugh first met LaFortune during the production of “Greenland” when producer Basil Iwanyk introduced them.
While working on “Greenland,” their relationship deepened, leading Iwanyk to approach Waugh and inquire about LaFortune’s script, “Burn Run.” Waugh later described their conversation with ScreenRant, recalling their dialogue: “Knowing of Mitch’s service in the DIA (the military equivalent of the CIA)…He asked if I had read ‘Burn Run,’ to which I replied affirmatively and asked what exactly it entailed. He responded, ‘Well, it was inspired by his personal account of his time spent serving in Middle Eastern conflicts… It also features true events of a CIA operative on the run.'”
In 2016, LaFortune successfully pitched and sold his spec movie, “Burn Run,” to Thunder Road Pictures, founded by Basil Iwanyk. Speaking with We Are The Mighty, LaFortune discussed how his service in Afghanistan had inspired the plot of his novel, particularly highlighting the vulnerability of being an American in a foreign conflict zone. He emphasized the interesting relationship between an operator and a translator as central aspects.
LaFortune explained, “While the concept behind ‘Kandahar’ may be captivating–an American spy must escape enemy territory while simultaneously safeguarding a civilian–it is really about people—both American and Middle Eastern—who have lived through the war.”
The filmmakers intentionally cast an ensemble cast to add authenticity and credibility to their story. Director Ric Roman Waugh sought to challenge casting conventions by selecting actors who embodied each character he chose. As Waugh stated, “Our goal wasn’t simply casting someone from Hollywood who played this type of person—rather, we wanted to find individuals from around the globe who represented this type of individual.”
Notably, several cast members incorporated their personal wartime experiences into their performances. Navid Negahban, who portrays Mohammad, had firsthand knowledge of Kandahar due to being a child refugee from Tehran during the Iran-Iraq war. Similarly, Najia Khaan, who played a smaller part, drew upon her experiences as an Afghan refugee to bring attention to the plight of Afghan women.
Gerard Butler, known for his portrayal of Tom Harris, is essential in anchoring interpersonal relationships throughout “Kandahar.” It marks a collaborative return between Butler and director Ric Roman Waugh, who had previously worked on “Angel Has Fallen” and “Greenland.” According to Collider, Waugh initially casts Butler due to his ability to portray relatable yet complex human characters. Waugh praises Butler in this regard, stating, “He’s somebody we can relate to because he plays it from such a raw viewpoint.”
“Kandahar” seeks to exceed expectations by emphasizing its human components. It delves deep into the lives of real people who encountered extraordinary circumstances and endured unspeakable brutality, showing how these individuals formed bonds as they navigated their way through Afghanistan’s volatile history.