Lone Survivor (2013)

Director: Peter Berg
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Taylor Kitsch, Emile Hirsch, Ben Foster, Eric Bana . USA . 2h 1m

Based on : Lone Survivor by Marcus Luttrell and Patrick Robinson.

Generally I love war movies, when I was growing up it was mostly about WWII or Vietnam but then as the world got older,  we had new wars to dramatize, mostly set in the Middle East or Africa and for wars which no one really wanted to discuss. The films became less about the action and more about the people involved. The almost poetic Jarhead (2005) saw the build up and break down of several officers as they battled themselves and each

other pent up with fear and anger fighting a war that didn’t need men to participate, the war itself mostly forgotten and the freedom to really interrogate the men involved, which pretty much summed up the situation, the point of the war was weak the people being sent out there weren’t needed or prepared.

Lone Survivor is heavily inspired by the 2007 non fiction book by Marcus Luttrell and Patrick Robinson, this film dramatizes an unsuccessful mission performed by the US Navy SEAL’s to track down a Taliban leader Ahmad Shah.  Dammit was that a spoiler? Don’t worry there’s lots to see and do here while most of the film is obvious, from the title, posters and trailers, it’s just one of those films where you’re expected to “enjoy” the journey, to see a rare reproduction of a first hand account of a fairly devastating skirmish. If real war is your thing then you can’t really go wrong here.

After a brief introduction to the men, their personal lives and the belief is in you on just how amazingly honourable they are. They are soon dropped into their mission, which starts well. Then things go terribly wrong, while the men are highly trained and physically fit, there is a moral dilemma that they could not be prepared for, kill a group of Afghans in order not to compromise their mission or let them go unharmed.  It’s a familiar situation, not only in this event but others which have been spliced into this story. Taking the high ground and being just actually got these guys into some serious trouble and a whole world of pain. A huge chunk of this movie is basically a few guys throwing themselves down a mountain while being shot to shit, and I don’t feel that I’m giving anything away when I say there is only one who makes it, it wouldn’t be called Lone Survivor for nothing. But it’s what happens next which was a bit unusual. I was expecting something more along the lines of Black Hawk Down (2001) but the film takes an entirely different path, something way more human and in ways bittersweet.

Generally the film is brutally violent and really doesn’t let up until there’s only one man (almost) standing, nothing on par with the inhumanity of Saving Private Ryan but we’re fighting a different war and this seige on a small group of men is similar. That actors are pretty much the hot shots that didn’t make it into Black Hawk Down (2001) (apart from Bana whose role is bizarrely as small in each) but they have different acting abilities which really amped the intense realism, they are more involved in their characters, probably out of respect for the real men who were lost during this mission.

I understand the sentimental aspect of the film, we’re not just talking about war stories, but real people who lost their lives fighting for what they believed in, little is really said about anyone who isn’t American but not everyone on the “other side” is made out to be a violent criminal, which is a plus. But I couldn’t help thinking about the epic mountal fall in Hot Rod (2007).. But this one is totally not that funny at all, this is totally gripping meaty action instead. Lots of servicemen have been verbal in the films accuracy,they really admire how the camaraderie between the men is expressed and can really identify with it.

For holywood the action scenes are filmed differently, the sense of emergency and not knowing where the enemy is really emphasizes the confusion situation along with some remarkably empathic death scenes.  It’s quite powerful stuff that isn’t all about track and kill the enemy and driving home a political statement.

Rating: 5/10

R: Jarhead (2005) , Black Hawk Down (2001)
A: Show me your WAR FACE!
5s: Mark Wahlberg, Ben Foster, Eric Bana




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