Much of the first half of A War takes place in the dust and blood of Afghanistan, as the members of a Danish platoon try to make sense of the chaos of battle. Much of the second half is set inside a military courtroom back in Copenhagen, where the clean lines and empty backgrounds call to mind an IKEA-only design concept. Director Tobias Lindholm makes his point: In the cold light of a military tribunal, things seem relatively clear-cut. In the middle of a firefight, it isn’t so easy to make the right call.
That contrast is typical of the film’s straightforward approach to dilemmas. A War, an Oscar nominee in the best foreign-language feature category (representing Denmark), doesn’t so much bring new ideas to light as confirm our worst suspicions.