Pin It
Favorite

Cost of Combat 

Lone Survivor is a sobering, powerful war movie

click to enlarge film2-1.jpg

The spoiler is in the title: Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell was the only one to walk away — well, get medevacked away — from a doomed 2005 mission in the mountains of Afghanistan to capture or kill Ahmad Shahd, a Taliban leader who'd targeted U.S. Marines and was an all-around villain.

Now, writer-director Peter Berg, in a gripping bounce-back from his deeply terrible Battleship, has adapted Luttrell's story into one of the more realistic military movies ever (at least as far as someone who's never been in the military can determine), one that acknowledges the powerful fraternity of soldiers without being jingoistic about their work, one that depicts a battlefield's intensity and adrenaline without getting pornographic about it. It's even got something to say about the ironies of modern asymmetrical warfare and the senselessness of the Western military presence in the region.

The giveaway of the title immediately turns some clichés of the war flick into resigned tragedy: The SEAL who has a sweet Skype chat with his wife before heading out on the mission. Another who discusses with a brother-in-arms the appropriate wedding gift for his fiancée. We already know these guys are doomed. And yet, just as these soldiers don't linger on the possibility of their own demise as they troop into the rugged hills to seek out their target, we also forget the inevitable and are caught up in the immediate moment as the mission goes wrong almost instantly.

The mission isn't "cursed," Luttrell (Mark Wahlberg) corrects one of his fellow soldiers. "It's just Afghanistan." Hanging over everything that happens is the unspoken suggestion that they shouldn't even be here at all, and they're certainly not prepared for it. As fighting machines, sure: they've been through brutal, almost abusive training, as we see in the montage of (presumably) real SEALs being toughened up that opens the film. But not one in this band of four — led by Michael Murphy (Taylor Kitsch) and including Danny Dietz (Emile Hirsch) and Matt Axelson (Ben Foster) — speaks a word of the language of the hill tribes they're wandering among. That presents an enormous problem when an old man and a little boy shepherding goats stumble upon their hiding place above the village housing their objective below.

Berg does not shy away from the terrible realities of the SEALs' situation, and listening to American soldiers arguing over whether they should kill unarmed civilians in order to protect their mission is horrific. (They fear their presence would be revealed to Shahd if they let the goatherders go, and they can't talk to their captives to determine whose side they might be on; the film makes it plain that plenty of Afghans hate the Taliban.)

The film's centerpiece is an extended firefight, not in the least bit Hollywoodized action, in which the four SEALs sustain awful — and awfully realistic — injuries, are utterly beaten up and shot up, and make decisions aimed at survival that indicate their seemingly abusive training was indeed necessary, and far from too extreme.

From the perspective of mere movie entertainment, the non-CGI stunt work and you-are-there action is riveting, and not like anything you've seen on film before. From the perspective of real-world military activity? We need to find better ways than this of resolving conflicts. We must be insane to let anyone, on either side of this deplorable state of affairs, go through what we witness here. ♦

Trailer


Lone Survivor
Rated R · 121 minutes · 2014
Official Site: www.lonesurvivorfilm.com
Director: Peter Berg
Producer: Peter Berg, Sarah Aubrey, Randall Emmett, Norton Herrick, Barry Spikings, Akiva Goldsman, Mark Wahlberg, Stephen Levinson, Vitaly Grigoriants, George Furla, Simon Fawcett, Braden Aftergood, Louis G. Friedman, Remington Chase, Stepan Martirosyan, Adi Shankar, Spencer Silna, Mark Damon, Brandt Andersen, Jeff Rice, Lauren Selig and Jason Shuman
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Taylor Kitsch, Eric Bana, Emile Hirsch, Ben Foster, Sammy Sheik and Yousuf Azami

Now Playing

Sorry there are no upcoming showtimes for Lone Survivor

Tags: ,

  • Pin It

Latest in Film

  • Safely Outrageous
  • Safely Outrageous

    Horrible Bosses 2 depends on the most predictable kind of transgressive humor
    • Nov 25, 2014
  • Katniss Strikes Back
  • Katniss Strikes Back

    The next installment of the Hunger Games series is sequel gold
    • Nov 19, 2014
  • Growing Up
  • Growing Up

    Seattle director Lynn Shelton delivers another unpredictable story with Laggies
    • Nov 19, 2014
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Fri | Sat | Sun | Mon | Tue | Wed
The Cab Calloway Orchestra

The Cab Calloway Orchestra @ Northern Quest Casino

Sat., Nov. 29, 7:30 p.m.

All of today's events | Staff Picks

or

More by Maryann Johanson

  • Katniss Strikes Back
  • Katniss Strikes Back

    The next installment of the Hunger Games series is sequel gold
    • Nov 19, 2014
  • Dare to Dream
  • Dare to Dream

    Interstellar gives us hope for the future of big movies — and humanity
    • Nov 5, 2014
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • Fresh Spin

    A local record shop is reincarnated under a new owner, giving this generation a taste of vinyl
    • Nov 25, 2014
  • Hairy Matters

    L.A. glam-metal pioneers Mötley Crüe are calling it quits, and that's not necessarily a good thing.
    • Nov 19, 2014
  • More »

Top Tags in
Music & Film

Film


Music


Review


Cover Act


Jazz


© 2014 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation