Director: Peter Berg Writers: Marcus Luttrell(book), Patrick Robinson
Lone Survivor is an unforgiving, brutal war film; it is the definition of visceral. It does not compromise for a toned down and user friendly outing. It's "R" rating is well earned. However the fact that a watered down television version of this film just does not work, there is simply no denying the spellbinding quality of this vicious war film, especially given that it is a true story. At the beginning we are introduced to Marcus Luttrell and his four Navy SEAL teammates, who are prepping for their mission, "Operation Red Wings", in Afghanistan. The viewer is immediately immersed in this fascinating, isolated mission very far from home. We are then taken to a rocky mountain top as the four-man SEAL team are sent to gain reconnaissance on notorious Taliban leader, Ahmad Shaw. The mission runs smoothly, albeit with communications being off and on from the surrounding high peaks, until a sound from a bush is heard to the SEALS' horror, it is not an animal but a local goat herder and two boys. The SEALS are faced with the decision of what to do next, with so many confining problems and without sufficient comms. What comes next, I won't reveal, although it should be obvious that it does not go well. The next 35-45 minutes the audience is treated to one of the most phenomenal pieces of film ever put together, as we follow the four men as they attempt to push back and fend off 60-80 plus Taliban soldiers. We then follow them as they jump off a deep gorge in order to save themselves, with their already bleeding bodies banging and smashing again limbs, rocks, etc. The Four SEALS display an incredible professionalism as they calmly and carefully hold their own against the chaos, even as their conditions rapidly decline. We are then taken with them through another fall down the cliff, this time even more hard to watch as the men practically break their backs just to escape the enemy gunfire. One of their teammates, shot several times, begins to lose consciousness, babbling about his mother and admiring the "vivid reds" that his missing fingers are sporting...this is not just a film, it IS war. What is so exceptional about this film is that it caters well to the average movie goer(action action action) with the breathtaking scenes of war and gun fighting, yet it manages to be such an intense and emotional experience that you can't help not be moved by it, at least somewhat. During adverts for the film I was simply rolling my eyes(a bad, first judgment habit I have) and my low expectations of this made my viewing even more special, as I was incredibly drawn into this simply stellar war film. A common critique is of two natures: 1. The film has no depth and 2. It is a highly political movie. I will start off by saying that second complaint is highly untrue; this is not a political film, which is the beauty in it. It is simply a telling of a story. A true war story which real people were involved in. There is no need for political debate or arguing whether or not we should have been there etc., etc., that is a moot point. The fact is, this was something that people were involved in, were needed for the job. I have a much more immense respect for the Military and the ordinary people who decide to make that their career, upon viewing this film. The first critique is of a somewhat true nature. Yes, the film doesn't have a great amount of depth; and again that's what makes it work so well. We are shown that these are youngish and mostly engaged men who are simply living their careers and paying their bills. Every exasperated "F*** you" and "mother f**ker" is so rightfully felt, as these extraordinary young soldiers who have become involved in an extraordinary and tragic operation battle for their lives. We as an audience are taken with these men through their valiant battle to survive, and the only thing we as an audience can do is watch in awe, amazement and respect. For me, "Lone Survivor" conjures up a great mixture of feelings, the simple awe factor that something like this truly unfolded in real life, and the restoration of faith in me that film industry, with all of it's overwhelming shortcomings, can still be a powerful, driving bullet of force. No pun intended.