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Early in Dan Krauss's The Kill Team, a soldier shares that when he was about to enter a firefight, Kenny Loggins's "Danger Zone" would pop into his head. The emotional disconnect between a soldier's perception of reality and reality itself is the subject of this documentary, which finds drama in evenhanded storytelling that is the inverse of its characters' emotional shakiness.
The subjects are ignominious members of an Army platoon that, during the Afghanistan War, murdered three Afghani civilians for sport. Crucially, not all of the vilified soldiers deserved their shaming — one, Specialist Adam Winfield, attempted to blow the whistle on the behavior, and it's Winfield's fate that most concerns Krauss. Winfield attempted to alert authorities without being killed by his platoon members in the process, and his story, recounted mostly in talking-head footage, plays as horrific, lonely drama. Despite its reliance on visually uninteresting interviews, The Kill Team engages throughout and is enhanced by bloodcurdling images of the platoon members posing with the corpses of their victims. The first Afghani the group murdered was a fifteen-year-old boy. While the film does take one late, errant step into sentimentality, with home-video footage of Winfield as a young boy himself, the storytelling remains largely matter-of-fact, allowing the horror and insanity of Winfield's predicament — and the psychopathy of his fellow soldiers — to speak for itself.