Lone Survivor is the true story of the failed Navy Seal’s “Operation Red Wing” mission; The objective was to to capture or kill Taliban leader Ahmad Shah in the Afghanistan 2005. As the title suggest only one man is going to make it out alive, but that doesn’t diminish the quality of the film by any means. Mark Wahlberg plays as Marcus Luttrell, the only survivor of the four Seals.
The film opens up with archive footage of real Navy Seals going through intensive training to establish that tough mindset, and then to a wounded Wahlberg being treated inside a helicopter. We are then brought to a few days earlier and we are shown the living situation of the men at base. After the introduction of the characters; they are told the objectives and plan out the course for the mission. Upon their arrival they set up base and it looks as if it will be an easy day on the job. However things start going wrong with their radio, and their position is compromised by local farmers. Leaving the Seals to decide what to do with them; Kill them, leave them to die from the cold, or release them. After the Seal’s intense debate they chose to do the right thing and let the farmers go and to retreat down to the Taliban. As you can guess more things go wrong and leaves the four Navy Seals pitted up against an army of Taliban along a rocky hillside.
What strikes me the most about this film is it’s realism. The film never gave you the feeling that America is better than everyone and that we can power through any and everything. The Seals experienced a run of bad luck placing them into situations falling down a rocky mountain, multiple gun wounds to various body parts and the head. The film doesn’t stray away from showing these battle wounds at the moment of the contact and the after effects. The wounds never seemed to be overdone either, but rather painting a picture of reality of the situation. Director Peter Berg was able to accomplish is vision of showing exactly what the Seals went through. I read that Marcus Luttrell moved in with him as his wrote the script, and Berg also was given access to stay with a Navy Seal team for a month in Iraq. After reading a little more on the actual story I was surprised to see how certain things actually happened notably being the helicopter explosion (there’s a lot of helicopters in here so don’t worry).
Something that I realized after watching this film was how advanced and tactical war as became. In comparison to world war 2 films, it’s completely different approaches. There is way less men, and the technology is far superior. So while I was watching the immerse gun fight along the mountain, It felt fresh as if I’ve never seen it in a film. It was filmed clearly and I never felt lost as to what’s going on. No complaints in the editing department, The sounds were good, the score was helped by Explosions in the sky, and to my surprise I enjoyed the cinematography & makeup. I didn’t expect their to be some interesting camerawork, also the makeup was pretty well done too!
Mark Wahlberg is great in his role here, he brings similar attitudes of his usual roles i.e tough guy, witty; but he’s also able to go a little more deeper to pull out some emotions. Taylor Kitsch played Michael Murphy, he was solid as the main leader of the Seals. Ben Foster as Matt ‘Axe’ Axelson, he played well as more of a realist. Lastly Emile Hirsch as Danny Dietz, He did fine and brought in qualities of being younger and less tougher of the four men.
Two questions I will answer two questions I’ve heard most, Is it as good as Saving Private Ryan? and Is the film overly jingoistic? Well Lone Survivor falls short in every category when compared to SPR, However that doesn’t mean it doesn’t present one hell of a war flick. I haven’t seen too many war movies since SPR, but I know this was well made and will surprise a lot of people. The film begins to pull on the strings of your heart as the film is in it’s last act. We are brought through so much with this soldiers, literally worked our way from the top to the bottom of a mountain with them. From having no previous knowledge of what happened I didn’t see the third act coming, and I really enjoyed where it went and how the film concluded. The second question as if it’s too overly jingoistic? I would say no. The film opens up for thirty minutes or so, introducing the characters, it is needed but if anything that would be the only part besides from a few lines here and there. The rest of the film is just telling the story as it happens, I had no problem with it.
Overall, This film came to me as a surprise because I wasn’t planning on watching it, however I am very glad I did. The trailer and cast leaves speculation to the film being a routine war film, but it’s much more than that. The story of Marcus Luttrell and telling what happened to his brothers back there in Afghanistan has now been told from through book and brought to cinema where people from all over the world can see what these men went through on that summer day.
Rating: ★★★★ / ★★★★★
Dir. Peter Berg
IMDB 7.6 – Rotten Tomatoes 67%
Nominated Academy Award – Achievement in Sound Design
Nominated Academy Award – Achievement in Sound Editing
Nominated Saturn Award – Best Director, Action Film, Makeup
“We’re fixing to get into a pretty good gun fight”