Movie Review: Lone Survivor

Lone Survivor 1sheetNavy SEALs are a tough group, but so close to each other that’s the family you want. Lone Survivor tells the story of a failed mission to capture/kill a Taliban leader. Opening with real footage of SEAL training, its like the calm before the storm.

Lone Survivor main cast

Universal Studios

Mark Wahlberg stars as Marcus Luttrell. Hes a single guy who loves his team like family. He’s also heavily respected. Taylor Kitsch is Lieutenant Mike Murphy the team leader of Operation Red Wings, portrayed as the guy everyone else wishes they were. Rounding out the team are Ben Foster as Matt Axelson, and Emil Hirsch as Daniel Dietz. Orders come down from their commanding officer Kristensen (Eric Bana) to go on a mission to kill or capture Ahmed Shah. Lone Survivor attempts to weave in the various sides of a military mission in Afghanistan. We see what SEALs do in their downtime, emails and instant chats with loved ones, talks about life back home, there’s a secondary storyline running about horses, Murphy’s wife wants a horse that’s quite expensive while Luttrell is hoping to hook up wit a bridesmaid at Dietz’s upcoming wedding. It humanizes the guys before we get down to the action.

Lone Survivor

The firefight

The 4-man team heads into the mountainous terrain for their mission, they soon realize the crew on the ground is much more than they were expecting. The story of Lone Survivor also intertwines life at the village below. Its clear Shah and his men have come in and taken over whether the residents like it or not. Those who aren’t Taliban followers are clearly in fear of the regime but do what’s necessary to survive as well. We see that Shah and his men are not above killing anyone who defies them. The team while trying to find the best place to hide as well as when they decide this isn’t the best mission have their location compromised by a family of goat herders the guys argue and try to decide how to deal with an old man a child and an angry and defiant young man. There is a split of deciding to kill them or let them go and clearly this choice will decide the fate of this mission and the lives of many. That choice results in the team of 4 being surrounded by wave after wave of Shah’s men.

Lone Survivor spends its entire 2nd act in the firefight. Its just something you have to see. There are points where you assume they will break and the film just keeps going. Its still amazingly well paced considering. The team holds there own off and on during the fight but as the title explains you already know how it is going to end. We do have an important and for me and unexpected break where they revert back tot he base and the attempts to not only reach the team to get their position but also to extract them. There were audible gasps when that unfolded which was noticeable for an otherwise still and quiet theater.

Lone survivor

Universal Studios

Lone Survivor is based on a true story, the men are all named after their real counterparts and the film ends with an equally moving set of real images and footage of the SEALs who lost their lives. While I didn’t overly love the star treatment Mark Wahlberg gets as it seems the rest of the team should have been equally important I did find this enjoyable. There are intense scenes of violence so its definitely not for the faint-hearted but the story is one that as its been told is worth knowing.

My Rating: Full Price
Director: Peter Berg
Studio: Universal Pictures
Release Date: January 10, 2014
Run time: 2 hours 1 minute
MPAA Rating: R

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