Review: The Covenant Dramatizes the Plight of Afghan Interpreters

Jake Gyllenhaal stars in a film that criticizes the U.S. immigration system.


The Covenant isn't based on a specific true story, but its war-and-dishonor narrative is rooted in the reality of America's shabby treatment of local allies during and after the Afghan war, especially those promised special immigrant visas for aiding U.S. forces. It tracks the close bond that develops between a U.S. military commander and his Afghan interpreter after the two escape a Taliban attack that leaves the rest of their squad dead.

After being saved by his interpreter, the commander wakes up back in the United States. The interpreter himself is forced into hiding in Afghanistan, without the promised visa. The commander then struggles to obtain the visa from an incomprehensible and uncaring immigration system, which eventually becomes a full-on quest to rescue his friend. The gripping film is a pointed indictment of both the war and the madness of U.S. immigration policy.