OSV News – Director Guy Ritchie is best known for his snappy (but often morally questionable) crime films as well as for his unrestrainedly bare-knuckled adaptations of Sherlock Holmes lore. The helmer adopts a graver tone, however, in crafting the tense war drama "Guy Ritchie's The Covenant" (MGM).

This time out, the ethics underlying the script Ritchie co-wrote with Ivan Atkinson and Marn Davies are generally impeccable. Yet the realistic-feeling, albeit not fact-based, adventures the screenplay chronicles are not for the fainthearted – nor for those who object to soldierly swearing.

Jake Gyllenhaal plays U.S. Army Master Sgt. John Kinley. Amid the rigors of the conflict in Afghanistan, Kinley's unit loses its Afghan interpreter and Kinley selects a reserved local man named Ahmed (Dar Salim) as his replacement.

Although Kinley initially harbors doubts about Ahmed, the translator soon demonstrates his deep knowledge of his native country's culture and inner workings, as well as an ability to read people that proves invaluable. As a result, the two gradually bond.

When an ambush far away from their base subsequently leaves Kinley badly wounded, his life depends on the depth of Ahmed's friendship and dedication. To reach safety, Ahmed will have to undertake an arduous, perilous journey through a mountainous landscape controlled by the Taliban, dragging the now-helpless Kinley behind him on an improvised wooden sled.

Ritchie turns out a high-quality production, Gyllenhaal has moments of impressive intensity while Salim's Ahmed keeps his cards convincingly close to his chest.

In lieu of the window dressings of rah-rah heroism, we're shown the gritty determination, self-sacrifice and endurance sometimes required to demonstrate genuine courage. Additionally, later plot developments highlight the reciprocal demands of an honorable relationship formed in the crucible of trying circumstances.

An admirable tale of understated derring-do, the movie nonetheless comes accompanied by a surfeit of F-words and some bloody interludes that mark it as fit for mature viewers only. Still, grown-ups will likely emerge appreciative of the hard-won values Ritchie and his collaborators celebrate in this satisfying fictional riff on a tragically frustrating real-life war.

The film contains much combat violence with some gore, disturbing images, a narcotics theme, vague sexual humor, at least one profanity, pervasive rough language and occasional crude and crass talk. The OSV News classification is A-III – adults. The Motion Picture Association rating is R – restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

John Mulderig is media reviewer for OSV News. Follow him on Twitter @JohnMulderig1.