The trend of critically-acclaimed films with little to no story continues with Kilo Two Bravo. Scoring 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, this account of British soldiers trapped in a minefield in Afghanistan joins Bridge of Spies, Leviathan, The Revenant, Spotlight, and The Big Short in the annals of great, but deficient, filmmaking. It is as if—bombarded by a continuous diet of tweets and endless distractions—the collective unconscious judges meaningful narrative as non-essential to its continued growth. The verdict is in: story is dead.
But then one looks to films like While We’re Young, Dope, Sicario, and Whiplash and suddenly one remembers the beauty of a well-argued narrative. The Dramatica theory of story posits the concept that every complete story is an analogy to a single human mind trying to solve a problem. It doesn’t pretend to be a unified theory of story or the be-all end-all of every story every written.
But it does model lasting narrative.
Kilo Two Bravo is enjoyable—if one wishes to experience the anxiety of being trapped within an inescapable minefield in the middle of nowhere. Like a roller coaster ride built for Entertainment, this film grabs hold and takes you through every turn. The performances captivate, the direction expert, and the timing sublime; but beyond that there is little to say. As a commentary on the pointlessness of war it excels, as something that will endure years down the road the future looks less clear.
The films that last, the novels that capture our imaginations and infect us with an entirely different way of approaching the world, these works persist because they offer something more than simply a vehicle for Entertainment. Novels like To Kill a Mockingbird and films like The Lives of Others demand re-engagement because they show us what it is like to solve problems both within and without of ourselves. We feel what it is like to stand up against prejudice objectively from the point-of-view of Atticus while at the same we experience our own prejudice through Scout and her boogeyman neighbor. With The Lives of Others we experience the pain of being blacklisted by a corrupt government while we ourselves struggle against our own personal blacklisting.
The opportunity is there to provide audiences with a lasting and memorable experience, one that surpasses hairpin turns and pit-of-your-stomach ten-story drops. It merely requires an Author with the comprehension and understanding to craft character, plot, theme, and genre into something more than a telling of what happened.