Legion of Brothers Blu-ray Review

Valiant Special Forces Soldiers Reflect on Afghanistan

Immediately after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, the United States government began a covert war against Afghanistan, initially deploying fewer than one hundred Special Forces troops in the country. Building a coalition with the rebels of the Northern Alliance, US troops faced off against the Taliban regime and terrorist organization al-Qaeda. They succeeded in driving both out of power by the end of 2001 with minimal casualties and bypassing larger military operations.

Despite this victory, the U.S. and its allies soon became mired in a seemingly never-ending war in Afghanistan. It’s now the longest war in American history. The untold story in Legion of Brothers features unprecedented access to the Green Berets who played pivotal roles in these covert missions. Soberly reflecting on their experiences and on the fellow soldiers they lost, these elite Special Forces soldiers offer a riveting account of valor in action as well as a cautionary tale about Afghanistan.

Legion of Brothers is a captivating documentary produced by CNN films and directed by Emmy winner Greg Barker (Manhunt). It was an official selection at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival.

The United States Army Special Forces are colloquially known as the Green Berets. The Green Berets are a special operations force tasked with five primary missions: unconventional warfare, foreign internal defense, special reconnaissance, direct action, and counter-terrorism. Legion of Brothers tells the story of two such units, Team 595 and Team 574, sent into Afghanistan with the task of taking out the senior leadership of al-Qaeda and the Taliban regime. In a stunning display of the Special Forces’ effectiveness, they would practically topple the Taliban regime by themselves in a few short months.

This is an intimate, personal telling of the events. Recounting the first moments they were notified they would be going on a mission, the former soldiers recall the impact it had on their family members. One man realized he likely wouldn’t make it back from the mission in time to see the birth of his child.

It’s a revealing glimpse into the personal aftermath experienced by the soldiers…

Legion of Brothers heavily relies on interviews with the surviving Green Beret members that participated and archival footage presumably culled from CNN’s extensive news resources. It’s a revealing glimpse into the personal aftermath experienced by the soldiers, including a heart-felt meeting between them and the children of one of their fallen brothers. Their harrowing experiences on the battlefield bonded the men forever, even for the ones that didn’t make it back. Director Greg Barker is excellent at pulling out real emotions from the Green Berets, giving them an honest opportunity to share their feelings on what this war and service meant to them.

Legion of Brothers is a personally revealing documentary, giving the Special Forces members of Team 595 and 574 a chance to tell their side of the story in unfiltered detail. It gets surprisingly emotional and raw when old wounds are opened up in interviews, though it appears powerfully cathartic for the former soldiers. Nothing gets sugarcoated, including a sad revelation that one member died from an American bomb mistakenly dropped on them by their own side.

The documentary doesn’t overstay its welcome, running a free-flowing 78 minutes. Fluidly paced with a nice mix of emotional beats and grittier combat footage from Afghanistan, Legion of Brothers is a moving documentary celebrating personal American military heroism. Told without an ulterior agenda, it honors these Green Berets.

Video

There seems to be some misinformation floating around for this Blu-ray release. Listed as a BD-R on Amazon, the review copy was a regularly replicated BD you would get with any normal movie release. The documentary is put out by Gravitas Ventures. Typically these niche, non-traditional productions don’t look great. Legion of Brothers is a strong exception to that rule.

The 78-minute main feature is given a strong AVC encode on a BD-25. It’s a technically sound presentation with surprisingly crisp videography, nicely integrating the mix of archival video footage and photographic stills.

The new Green Beret interviews have fantastic clarity and definition. Pristinely shot, these talking head interviews offer startlingly clean Hi-def video. The 2001 war footage and graphics are occasionally sourced from lower resolution sources, introducing the usual artifacts.

Audio

The 5.1 DTS-HD MA audio has a nice kick to it. The orchestral score by Philip Sheppard provides a dramatic accompaniment well suited to this kind of material. It’s softly spread over the soundstage, adding some ambience. The surround mix has balanced dialogue with occasionally discrete activity for the more active scenes.

Optional English SDH subtitles play in a white font.

Extras

The sole special feature is the Legion of Brothers’ trailer. The BD comes in an ordinary case.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

The unaltered images below are directly from the Blu-ray itself. For additional six Legion of Brothers screenshots, early access to all screens (plus the 6,000+ already in our library), exclusive UHD reviews, and more, support us on Patreon.