Lone Survivor (Universal)
Rated R for strong bloody war violence and pervasive language.
Starring Mark Wahlberg, Taylor Kitsch, Emile Hirsch, Ben Foster, Yousuf Azami, Ali Suliman, Eric Bana, Alexander Ludwig, Rich Ting, Dan Bilzerian, Jerry Ferrara..
Directed by Peter Berg.
Written by Peter Berg, based on the book by Marcus Luttrell and Patrick Robinson.
War movies often walk a fine line between utterly depressing and overly patriotic. Some of them are anti-war, some are “hoo-rah” cheerleading, and some are just stupid. When it comes to telling true stories of battle, I’m always a little suspicious that there’s a left or right-leaning agenda – both of which tend to forget the soldiers who live (and die) through such hellish acts. Lone Survivor is the latest “true” war story to hit the big screen, starring Mark Wahlberg as a Navy Seal who experienced a major catastrophe in Afghanistan.
Wahlberg plays the real-life Marcus Lutrell, who was a member of Seal Team 10 – stationed in Afghanistan during “Operation Red Wings” in 2005. Lutrell and his platoon were entrusted with the task of bringing a Taliban warlord to justice, but along the way, things did not go as planned. Besides Lutrell and his commanding officer Lt. Michael Murphy (Taylor Kitsch), the team also consists of Danny Dietz (Emile Hirsch) and Matthew “Axe” Axelson (Ben Foster).
After allowing a few goat herders to live during their mission, Lutrell and his buddies are caught in a crossfire with the Taliban, and all Hell breaks loose as they try to escape by leaping down the steep mountains while dodging a hail of bullets.
Okay, not really spoilers, in case you were paying attention to the film’s title.
In other words, not everybody makes it, but the “lone survivor” who does benefits from an act of kindness from nearby villagers who owe the Americans a debt.
Lone Survivor is a very good film and somehow avoids taking any sides in the Gung ho vs. Anti-War debate. Much of the movie feels like a documentary, with visceral scenes of battle, complete with some very graphic violence. Director-writer Peter Berg went through painstaking efforts to create a very real war film from the soldier’s point of view. Wahlerg, Kitsch, Hirsch and Foster form a great ensemble that projects the kind of camaraderie you’d expect from real soldiers.
The action and pace make Lone Survivor a tense ride from start to finish, even though you kind of know how it’s going to end.
Some may find fault with a few liberties taken with some of the facts surrounding Lutrell and the failure of Operation Red Wings, but Lone Survivor never feels like a major detour from reality.