Guy Ritchie is one of the macho filmmakers working today and he usually tells stories of guys hooking up with other guys. With “The Covenant,” his core interest is to represent a certain kind of military camaraderie as a core driving force of humanity. That is, he has no real interest in litigating the politics of the Afghan war, its origins, its purpose, or its painfully long duration. It’s unusual for Gyllenhaal to appear in the 2005 movie “Jarhead,” only to make a movie as opposite as this one. The first was a deeply cynical film, depicting the soldier’s experience as a mind-numbing, violent purgatory. The latter is a rah-rah, pro-military tale of heroism. The two movies couldn’t be more different.
Over the course of the last 20 years, it’s been interesting to see how Hollywood’s ambivalent portrayal of war changes. Several focused on the intensity and violence of the US occupation of the Middle East (“The Green Zone,” “The Hurt Locker,” “A War”), while others appeared occasionally to boast of the soldier’s expertise and stand out like shameless deeds. jingoism (“Act of Valor”, “12 Strong”, “The Outpost”). It’s no wonder The Avengers, an independent military force, has become so popular during a long and drawn-out wartime. More and more people became soldiers, and the Avengers were their fantastic avatars.
In terms of its action storytelling and hard-hitting narrative, “The Covenant” falls more into the latter camp than the former. But at the very least, it brings up a real problem that the Afghan War created.