Director: Peter Berg
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Taylor Kitsch, Ben Foster, Emile Hirsch, Eric Bana, Yousuf Azami
Based on the book of the same name by Marcus Luttrell, Lone Survivor takes us front and center on the impact of Operation Red Wings, a reconnaissance and surveillance mission to track down and capture Taliban leader Ahmad Shah (Azami) in 2005. Marcus Luttrell (Wahlberg), Michael Murphy (Kitsch), Danny Dietz (Hirsch), and Matt Axelson (Foster) were the four Navy SEALs assigned to this covert mission in the mountains of Afghanistan. Their hideout is quickly compromised by the locals and their cover is blown. It is only a matter of time before the four of them are faced with an army of Taliban gunmen. Their survival skills are put to a test as they are clearly outnumbered with no hope of rescue.
Director Peter Berg penned the screenplay and keeps the story solely on this raid. The film only covers the three days surrounding the mission and, as the title suggests, how Marcus Luttrell was able to survive. There is no back story or supporting characters outside of those involved with the situation. The film opens and closes with real life photos and videos of the men involved to offer a look into the regular lives these men led until they decided to risk their lives for our country.
Berg holds nothing back as he puts the audience right in the middle of the action and does not let up for the majority of the movie. Even though the audience knows the outcome, it makes the tension and suspense just as strong as you know what is about to unfold is unbelievably brutal. The blood and violence is so realistic, you churn and writhe in your seat as you can practically feel the bones breaking as our characters tumble down mountains and get shot at repeatedly. The film is loud and in your face as the bullets and explosions go off like they are happening next to you. It is no surprise that the film has been nominated for two Oscars for Sound Editing and Sound Mixing.
Words cannot really describe how you feel afterwards. Your body is shaking and you know your heart has probably skipped a beat due to the never ending intensity. I guess I cannot speak for others, but that was my reaction. The year 2013 in film had numerous movies set at such high intensity, and this one may just take the cake. I cannot imagine what it would actually be like to be in that position, yet so many men and women volunteer to serve our country knowing this may happen. The film really shines a light and puts things in perspective for what the members of our military go through. You may see this film as a stance on how unjust the war is or you may see it as a call out to the brave nature and honor these soldiers deserve. It is a powerful film, to say that least, about brotherhood and survival and should touch a nerve no matter where you stand on our involvement in the war.
The last film Peter Berg directed was Battleship which received horrendous reviews. Hopefully he has redeemed himself here with this unflinching story. Foster, Hirsch, Wahlberg, and Kitsch make for a great unit and you really feel the connection these men have toward each other especially at a time like this. Berg and Wahlberg, who also serves as producer, had some troubles getting the film financed with many people taking pay cuts in order to have this important story told. It is unfortunate that the film is not on more people’s radar as it could open some minds on what members of our military have gone through.
RATING: ****1/2 (4.5 out of 5 stars)