Modern Warfare (also known as Call of Duty - Modern Warfare) is a 2013 war film directed by Neil Blomkamp and is the first film in Blomkamp's trilogy based on the video game series by Infinity Ward, and produced by Flashpoint Studios. It is heavily based on the events that take place during the first game in the Modern Warfare series. The film has an ensemble cast starring Liam Neeson, Karl Urban, Simon Pegg, Mark Grigsby, Vin Diesel, Michael Weatherly, David Dayan Fisher, Tom Hardy, Kerr Smith, Ghassan Massoud, and Max von Sydow. The film sticks close to the storyline details, but also greatly expands on other details and changes a few things as well.
In the year 2011, a terrorist leader by the name of Khaled Al-Asad (Massoud) has waged war against the democratic government of Saudi Arabia and after a bloody battle in the capital city of Riyadh, he and his group (known as the "Opposing Force", or "OpFor" for short) have succeeded in coming to power and have established an authoritarian Fascist military dictatorship. Using convincing propaganda, Al-Asad has been broadcasting that President Yasir Al-Fulani (Alexander Siddig) has been secretly conspiring with the West in order to transform Saudi Arabia into a totalitarian dictatorship, in order to justify his actions, and furthermore presents forged letters to further these claims. Al-Fulani, who was driven into hiding after Al-Asad came to power, is found at his safehouse on the edge of Riyadh and arrested by the OpFor. Victor Zakhaev (Smith) and another Russian then drive Al-Fulani to an area where Al-Asad is broadcasting his propaganda on national television. Along the way, Al-Fulani witnesses OpFor soldiers making mass arrests and murdering civillians for no apparent reason. Once they reach the arena, Al-Fulani is brought before Imran Zakhaev (von Sydow), Al-Asad's friend and financial backer, who confirms that it is indeed Al-Fulani. He is then tied to a bloody stake in the middle of the arena. Zakhaev then gives Al-Asad his Desert Eagle pistol. Al-Asad then looks directly into the camera and ominously says "This is how it begins" before he publically executes Al-Fulani.
Mere hours later, Sergeant John "Soap" MacTavish is being driven to a British Special Air Service training facility in Credenhill, England, after having been reassigned to the 22nd Regiment. Upon arriving at the facility, Soap meets Lieutenant Gareth "Gaz" Tomlin (Pegg), the second-in-command of Bravo Team, for the first time. Gaz gives Soap some new equipment and tells him to report to Bravo Team's commander, Captain John Price (Neeson). Price has just seen the execution of President Al-Fulani on BBC News and welcomes Soap, then debriefs them on their upcoming mission.
Hours later, Bravo Team disembarks, following up on intel gathered by a Russian informant that an Estonian cargo freighter owned by black market mercenaries was transporting a nuclear weapon. The team storms the freighter, clearing the deck, then interrogating the ship's captain, where they learn that Khaled Al-Asad was the buyer of the device. Bravo Team heads belowdecks to locate the weapon. However, just as they contact their evac chopper to prepare the device for transport, the freighter is attacked by Russian Heavy Bombers, thus causing the ship to start sinking. Bravo Team frantically escapes and manage to reach the chopper, but Soap slips. However, he manages to jump to the chopper and make it in time. Once they return to base, Price discusses the possibility of an alliance between the Ultranationalists and the OpFor, However, the briefing is interrupted when they receive a message from MI5 that they'd received word from the Loyalists that the informant, Nikolai (Fisher), had been compromised and was slated to be executed. They immediately disembark once again.
Bravo Team tracks Nikolai's last communication to an Ultranationalist-held village in the Caucasus Mountains. There they meet up with an old friend of Captain Price's, Sergeant Ivan Kamarov (Hardy). Kamarov informs them that Nikolai's last known location was at a house at the far end of the village that was serving as the Ultranationalist command base. Kamarov further warns Price that the Ultranationalists number of reinforcements were doubled after learning of Nikolai's true allegiance, fearing that he would have friends try to recover him. Price and Kamarov quickly come up with a plan: Kamarov and his Loyalists would provide a distraction by attacking the Ultranationalists head on, allowing them to sneak through the village and recover Nikolai unscathed. Price is at first reluctant, believing that Kamarov and his men to be too badly outnumbered, but Kamarov insists. Once the Loyalists engage the Ultranationalists, Price, Soap, and Gaz evade the fighting and reach the house. Once they get there, Gaz cuts the power in the house, and Soap and Price enter the house and kill the Ultranationalists within. On the second floor they find Nikolai, who is wounded, but alive. They contact the chopper and request pickup, but Kamarov contacts them later and tells them that their cover has been blown. The four exit the house only to find it surrounded by Ultranationalist troops, with the apparent leader demanding that they surrender both Nikolai and themselves. However, their chopper appears moments later and opens fire on the Ultranationalists. In the confusion, the four manage to get on board and escape. Nikolai tells them that he has a safehouse in Munich. When asked if he had any new information for them, he tells them that he'd heard that Al-Asad was preparing for the U.S. to launch a military invasion to try and remove him from power. While initially, Soap, Gaz, and Price agree with this, Nikolai goes on to explain that if they did so, it would be a big mistake.
Meanwhile, in the United States, Defense Secretary William Cullen (Robert Patrick) has called his support staff as well as the Joint Chiefs of Staff to the Pentagon for an emergency meeting concerning Al-Asad's control of Saudi Arabia. After watching the video of Al-Asad executing Al-Fulani, they all agree that Al-Asad, a known terrorist, was much too dangerous to be allowed to remain in power, and that it threatened political stability in the Middle East. Cullen soon gets approval from the President to mobilize an invasion force, with the acting combatant commander of USCENTCOM (the unified combatant command responsible for military operations in the Middle East), Lieutenant General Hershel von Shepherd (Sam Elliot), acting as supreme commander. The invasion begins when the 1st Force Reconnaissance Company are deployed to the coastal village of Jeddah, where Al-Asad has established a control team responsible for maintaining the Saudi Arabian nuclear arsenal which needs to be disabled in order for them to reach the city, and therefore, get to Al-Asad. The 21st Platoon, under command of Lieutenant Dominic Vasquez (Diesel). The raid is spearheaded by Vasquez, Staff Sergeant Marcus Griggs (Grigsby), and Bravo Team, under command of Sergeant Paul Jackson (Weatherly). They storm the village and locate the Control Team at an abandoned military base located on the northern side of town. They are successful in disabling the nuclear arsenal, and as soon as they do, they contact Command, who then gives clearance for them to advance towards Riyadh.
Meanwhile, Price, Soap, and Gaz have sucessfully delivered Nikolai to his safehouse in Munich, where he is known by his alias "Sergei Torkamentov". Safe from harm's way, they keep track of the American invasion and update SAS command as well as MI5. They further hack into the Ultranationalist computer network and get information on Al-Asad and the OpFor. They learn that the Ultranationalist Party supported Al-Asad and the OpFor in order to keep America's focus away from the Civil War in Russia. They attempt to delve further into the Ultranationalist database, but the files are encrypted and they are unable to procede. They continue to keep tabs on the American invasion force.
In Saudi Arabia, the American invasion force has pushed foreward into Riyadh, and the entire city is swarming with OpFor troops. Al-Asad's location has been pinpointed at the Presidential Palace in the center of the city, and Command had earlier sent an M1 Abrams (callsign "War Pig") tank to clear the path, but the tank got stuck in a bog. Vasquez, Griggs, and Sergeant Jackson's squad are deployed to recover the tank and prevent it from being destroyed by enemy forces. They manage to make it to the tank and hold off enemy forces until the tank is operational once again. Before they begin the advance to the Riyadh Federal Disctrict, General Shepherd reassigns Griggs to a Covert Ops team under his command that has been assigned to storm a safehouse belonging to Al-Asad on the outskirts of the city to find any valuable intel. The remaining U.S. forces push foreward into the Federal District; as the do, Shepherd broadcasts to the invasion force that SEAL Team Six has located a nuclear warhead within the city, and that NESTs are en route to disable it, but that they should procede with caution. They continue towards the Presidential Palace, with Jackson and his squad stopping briefly to aid a pinned down Advance Team. Everything seems to be going well until Command informs them all that the nuclear warhead has been primed by some kind of remote control, and that all forces were to retreat from Riyadh. As they do, a Cobra pilot, Captain Maria Pelayo (Cote d'Pablo) is shot down, and against the orders of command, Vasquez and Jackson get her out. However, just as they are airbourne again, the nuclear warhead detonates, leveling the city of Riyadh, and claiming the lives of Jackson, Vasquez, Pelayo, and over thirty thousand other U.S. infantrymen.
In Munich, Price, Soap, Nikolai, and Gaz have just witnessed the destruction of Riyadh on television. Nikolai informs them that Al-Asad was too much of a coward to die with his city, and he tells them that Al-Asad had used a safehouse in Azerbaijan in the past. Price contacts the other operators of Bravo Team and tells them to meet him in Azerbaijan. Once they get there, they once again meet up with Sergeant Kamarov and a band of Loyalists on the edge of an Ultranationalist-held village where his safehouse is located. They enter the village and engage Ultranationalist troops, clearing several buildings before finally reaching the building they believe to be Al-Asad's safehouse/ Suddenly, the building blows up, killing several SAS and Loyalist soldiers and wounding both Price and Soap. Both of them, still dazed, witness Al-Asad himself arriving in an armored car, capturing Gaz and executing several more Loyalist soldiers, then driving away to his real safehouse, a large farmhouse on the far side of town. When they get there, Al-Asad has set up a blockade around the house and issues a threat over an open radio channel that if Price fires his weapon at any of his troops, he would execute Gaz on the spot. Price divises a quick plan with Soap, then feigns surrender, saying that if he released Gaz, he would be his hostage instead. Believing Price to be more valuabl than Gaz, he frees Gaz and take Price hostage and prepares to interrogate him, though Gaz remains within the house. Soap sneaks around to the back entrance and throws a flashbang into the room. The Ultranationalists rush into the house and open fire, but Soap, Gaz, Price, Nikolai, Kamarov, and several more SAS/Loyalist troops come in and aid them. Soon enough, the troopers from both side end up all dead, and Al-Asad attempts to engage Price in a hand to hand fight. Gaz and Soap restrain him and subdue him, then tie him to a chair. Price begins to interrogate Al-Asad, demanding to know why he detonated the bomb in Riyadh and where he got it from. Al-Asad refuses and says various swearwords to Price in Arabic. In the middle of the interrogation, Al-Asad's cellphone rings. Price tells Gaz to put it on speaker, and warns Al-Asad that, if he answers, he'd execute him right then and there. A deep Russian voice is heard on the other end, asking Al-Asad (in Arabic) if he had safely arrived in Azerbaijan. Price recognized the voice; he shoots the phone, then turns his pistol on Al-Asad and executes him. Price tells them that the voice belonged to Imran Zakhaev, the weapons dealer in the Ultranationalist Party and the party's chairman.
Price then flashes back to 1996, when he was still a Lieutenant in the SAS, under the command of Captain Andrew MacMillan. (Tony Curran) The duo were deployed to Pripyat, Ukraine, which had become abandoned in the wake of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, on a covert operation when MI5 learned that Zakhaev was selling nuclear fuel rods from the plant on the black market, which posed a serious threat. MI5 immediately authorized an assassination order on Zakhaev, the first time that the British Government had done this since World War II. The duo managed to navigate through the town and camp out in an abandoned hotel overlooking the Chernobyl plant. After several days, Zakhaev arrived. Price managed to snipe Zakhaev's left arm off, which he believed would be enough to kill him (because of "shock and blood loss") However, because of this, their cover is blown and and they are swarmed by Ultranationalist forces. They hurriedly call for extraction and flee from the pursuing forces. Along the way, a helicopter crashes on MacMillan; he lives, but is instantly crippled. Price carries him all the way to the extraction point, where they are safely recovered, both believing Zakhaev to be dead.
Back in the present day, Ultranationalist reinforcements have arrived. The SAS/Loyalist forces escape from Al-Asad's safehouse and fight through the Ultranationalist troops to the designated extraction point. Desperately outnumbered with their chopper still not on sight yet, things are looking bleak until a force of Sea Knight choppers arrive and launch an airstrike on the Ultranationalist forces. This is revealed to be a task force of U.S. Marines under command of Staff Sergeant Griggs. When Price inquires how they located them, Griggs responds by saying that they found incriminating documents in a bunker belonging to Al-Asad in Saudi Arabia indicating Al-Asad's alliance with Zakhaev, and upon presenting them to both General Shepherd and Defense Secretary Cullen, they were assigned to help them, as Secretary Cullen believed this to be a matter of national security. Cullen himself contacts them and informs them that he will be personally observing the operation, acting as their command along with Baseplate. Price declares that the best lead that they would have on Zakhaev would be to find and capture his son, Victor Zakhaev, who serves as the Ultranationalist field commander.
They track Victor's possible location to an Ultranationalist outpost in the Western Caucasus, where they kill the guards there, steal their uniforms and masquerade as Ultranationalists. In the morning, Victor arrives, where they ambush him. Hoever, the ambush goes awry when reinforcements arrive out of nowhere. Soap and Griggs are ordered to pursue the escaping Zakhaev, who hijacks a Jeep and drives through a nearby village. After a wild car chase, they manage to damage Victor's Jeep, it loses control and crashes into the side of an apartment complex. Victor exits the wrecked vehicle and enters the complex, setting several mines in the hopes that it would kill his pursuers. Finally, they corner Victor on the roof. Soap and Griggs both tackle him, with Griggs managing to disarm him. Victor overpowers Griggs, but is soon overpowered himself by Soap. Captain Price and Gaz soon arrive and demand that Victor surrender. Victor only smiles and comments that they would all be dead soon anyway before swallowing a cyanide pill, thus committing suicide. With their only lead on Zakhaev gone, Price resolves that he would not let the death of his son go unanswered, so they decide to wait.
Several hours later, Defense Secretary Cullen and his support staff (who have been watching from the Pentagon) have coordinated with the CIA and the DIA in hopes of finding another lead on Zakhaev. It is here that they receive a remote broadcast from Zakhaev himself. Zakhaev blames the U.S. and the U.K. for the death of his son and threatens to launch ICBMs at the United States if all American and British forces do not withdraw from Russia. Cullen declares a state of emergency and orders DEFCON 2 and alerts all major government departments to prepare for a possible war. He then contacts Price and his team, who have also heard the broacast. They track Zakhaev's location to a launch facility in the Altay Mountains, and Cullen declares that it is imerpative that they retake the facility from the Ultranationalists.
The SAS/Marine forces land successfully in the Altay Mountains, but Griggs is captured by enemy forces. After searching several mountain houses, they find Griggs being interrogated a pair of Ultranationalists. They kill the interrogators and free Griggs. Now regrouped, they locate an energy tower that maintained power to the launch facility and destroy it using C4. They locate a path into the facility and begin the advance, but not before they witness two ICBM's being launched. They contact Cullen and warn him. Cullen panics as does everyone else. He declares DEFCON 1 and estimates that, combined total, the missiles would result in nearly 41,096,749 civilian casulties. Cullen contacts the President, then immediately contacts the National Guard, ordering them to begin evcuating all major cities on the east coast. He then contacts the NSA and orders them to obtain abort-codes for the missiles based on intel gathered by the Loyalists.
The joint forces storm the facility and make it past the outer defenses, but become pinned down once they make it to the main area. Using the cover of a smoke grenade, Soap manages to take down two BTRs firing on them. With the BTRs down, the remaining Ultranationalists are taken care of. Back at the Pentagon, Secretary Cullen has received the abort-codes from the Director of the NSA. Cullen relays them to Captain Price and informs him that he only has 15 minutes to disable the ICBMs before they reach the U.S. Easst Coast.
All of them infiltrate the facility and frantically search for the control room. Encountering more Russian troops inside than they did outside, they struggle to find it. Eventually they do, with less than five minutes to spare. Soap enters the codes, and Cullen confirms that the missiles have been destroyed. Griggs promises to buy drinks for Price, Soap, and Gaz; however, they are interrupted by Cullen, who warns them that Zakhaev himself was bringing a large attack force to the launch facility. Suddenly, Price and his team are attacked, and Price is clubbed over the head. When he comes to, he is face to face with Imran Zakhaev, and the other team members are restrained and surrounded by a full platoon of Russian soldiers. Zakhaev refers to Price as "the young SAS lieutenant who robbed me of my left arm...and now, robbed me of my only son." Price corrects him by saying that he was a Captain and that Victor killed himself, but Zakhaev insists that, despite that, it was his fault. Zakhaev comments that he had waited a long time for revenge, and he had a second set of launch codes ready to launch a second round of ICBM's at the United States. He then switches on the central viewscreen, which shows a satellite map detailing the planned trajectory of the second round of missiles, and that he would force him to watch as he crippled the United States. Price is then nudged by Soap, who subtly tells him that one of his hands is free and he has a flashbang ready. Price nods back, and Soap throws down the flashbang. Zakhaev and his men are disoriented, and in the confusion, drops the secondary launcher. Price steps on it and destroys it, then frees his men and gives the order for them to escape the base as quickly as possible. Zakhaev, clearly enraged, bellows to his own men to follow them and not allow them to escape
All SAS/Marine forces extract immediately, but once they are on the road, the Ultranationalists catch up with them, pursuing in trucks, jeeps, and choppers. A wild car chase ensues between friendy and hostile forces. Further up the road, they are contacted by Kamarov, who is on his way with an evac chopper and reinforcements. As they reach a bridge, an enemy Hind shows up and destroys most of the allied vehicles. The SAS/Marine forces make a desperate last stand against the Ultranationalists, who he more reinforcements arriving. At that moment, a civilian oil tanker swerves out of control, and the Hind fires at it; it explodes in a giant conflagration and destroys part of the bridge, briefly knocking Soap out cold. Griggs comes to Soap's aid and attempts to pull him behind a downed Jeep being used as makeshift cover. At that moment, Griggs is killed by a bullet to the head, revealed to be fired by Zakhaev, who is executing multiple allies and is also seen bellowing, "Price! You have stopped me for the last time!", and in turn yelling to his men to kill everyone else, but only he could kill Price. Gaz sees him and attempts to tackle him, but Zakhaev kills him too. Soap attempts to stand up, but seems to be unable too. He searches for a weapon, but to no avail. He turns around to see that Price is down as well. Price sildes Soap his M1911 handgun, which Soap uses to kill Zakhaev and his two bodyguards, just as they are seen advancing on Price. Moments later, the Loyalist reinforements arrive, killing off all remaining Ultranationalists. Kamarov is seen running towards Soap, and signals a chopper to airlift him from the scene. Soap struggles, unwilling to leave Price, who was being tended to by a medic, but was unresponsive. Soap continues to protest about leaving Price even as he is airlifted away. As Soap is seen looking back down on the scene, the scene whites out.
A television screen appears, showing Secretary Cullen giving a speech detailing about how the terrorist plot of Imran Zakhaev had been thwarted and the country was now safe. He then announces Price, Soap, Gaz, and Griggs the ones primarily responsible for the act of heroism and praises them as heroes. Vladimir Makarov's voice is then heard saying, "Price....Price...someday you will pay."
- Liam Neeson as Captain John Price
- Karl Urban as Sergeant John "Soap" MacTavish
- Simon Pegg as Lieutenant Gareth "Gaz" Tomlin
- Mark Grigsby as Staff Sergeant Marcus Griggs
- David Dayan Fisher as Nikolai
- Vin Diesel as Lieutenant Dominic Vasquez
- Michael Weatherly as Sergeant Paul Jackson
- Tom Hardy as Sergeant Ivan Kamarov
- Max von Sydow as Imran Zakhaev
- Ghassan Massoud as Khaled Al-Asad
- Kerr Smith as Victor Zakhaev
- Robert Patrick as U.S. Defense Secretary William Cullen
- Alexander Siddig as Yasir Al-Fulani
- Tony Curran as Captain Andrew MacMillan
- Cote d'Pablo as Captain Maria Pelayo
- Craig Fairbrass as Sergeant Wallcroft
All songs were composed by Hans Zimmer.
- "Modern Warfare theme"
- "How It Begins"
- "Crew Expendable"
- "Lock and Load"
- "The Call of Duty"
- "Seeing Red"
- "Ghosts of Pripyat"
- "Shock and Awe"
- "The Sins of the Father"
- "Semper Fi"
- "Race Against Time"
- "Who Dares Wins"
- "The Price of War"
- "Under the Canopy"
- "State of Emergency"
- "End of the Line"
- "Closing theme"
For the full script, click here.