Lone Survivor



Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Taylor Kitsch, and Emile Hirsch

Rating: R

Time: 121 Minutes

Lone Survivor, based off the book by the same name,  tells the story of the failed Operation Red Wings, in which four Navy Seals are ambushed by Taliban forces in the mountains of Afghanistan.  This movie is not for the faint of heart, so be  prepared to see one of the most realistic portrayals of combat that I have ever seen.  Lone Survivor is intense and graphic, but a must see for anyone who wants to see what really is going on in the Near East.

I went into this movie a little skeptical, based on the fact that the last time Peter Berg (director) and Taylor Kitsch teamed up it resulted in Battleship.  Berg has been the force behind the Friday Night Lights television series and also directed the movie, but he has just as many flops as successes.  I was worried that he would over sensationalize such an important story, and thereby lose sight of what the story is actually trying to say.  Berg rose to the challenge of this film and delivered arguably one of the best movies about the United States’ War on Terror”.

Lone Survivor is a story more about the brotherhood that exists between the men who serve in our armed forces, than about the actual battle itself  Four Navy Seals are ambushed by a large Taliban force and are pursued mercilessly through the mountains of Afghanistan.  The films focuses on their struggle to survive and their willingness to fight and die for each other.  As the title states, most of the Seals in the movie end up dying at the hands of the Taliban but all die heroically trying to save on another.  The level of realism that is brought to this film is truly thought provoking and cringe inducing at the same time.  I have not scene battle films this realistic since Saving Private Ryan.

Another challenge in a film like this is portraying non-Americans as actual human beings as opposed to faceless enemies.  This of course is the one part that the film lacks, there is no humanism given to the opposing forces, they are only shown in scenes of battle and are portrayed as brutal fighters.  The Navy Seals are assisted by non-Taliban forces so at least not all foreigners are portrayed as the enemy.  I understand this is incredibly difficult in war films, but some of the greatest ones are able to humanize the enemy.

The acting in this films is superb, the four marines are played by Mark Wahlberg, Taylor Kitsch, Emile Hirsch, and Ben Foster.  All four actors give the characters there all and are able to show the range of emotions they go through facing certain death.  The film is also assisted by Eric Bana who plays the commander in charge of the Seals.  Bana who is no stranger to war films (Black Hawk Down) brings a more mature voice to the movie as the commander who is stuck at base while his troops are under attack.

I would highly recommend seeing Lone Survivor, it is a fantastic film about four amazing men.  The only things that keeps me from giving it an A is the incredibly graphic war scenes.  This movie is really hard to watch at times, the amount of pain these men went through is chilling.  If you cringe at blood and broken limbs this movie is not for you.  They did not pull any punches making this film, all the pain and carnage is shown and it will make anyone who watches it realize the sacrifice that our soldiers go through overseas.

Grade: B+ (Definitely Go)

Trailer:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yoLFk4JK_RM


4 thoughts on “Lone Survivor

  1. I wholeheartedly agree with the review in every way except the grade. If this movie isn’t an A or A- I don’t know what is. To grade it down for it being overly graphic is a shame! Most in this country will be lucky enough to never to have to experience war first hand and if this movie paints a clearer picture of what it is really like then it should be applauded not graded down. Simply this movie like combat itself is not for the faint of heart.

    Overall though great review sir!!

    • Ben,
      I’m not grading it down for being overly graphic. Saving Private Ryan was overly graphic and I would give that film an A+. I just don’t think Lone Survivor is one of the “great” war films, it is really good, but I would struggle to call it great. Peter Berg hammed up the directing a bit, and the movie is 85% action. Hard to call a movie great when you don’t get to know the characters all that well. But that’s just my opinion, I would still recommend the film for people to see.

  2. How does the movie compare to Hurt Locker – the other hyper-intense, if less graphic (it sounds like), movie, from the ‘other’ arena of full fledged combat operations?

    Nice to see Eric Bana back in movies.

    • Kenny,
      I think Hurt Locker is a better all around movie, but Lone Survivor is more action packed. I liked them both, but I don’t think they are in the upper echelon of US war films. It is worth going to, and definitely good to see in the theater.

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