Lone Survivor (2014): Live to Tell the Story

Posted: February 10, 2014 in Action, Biography, Drama
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lone_survivorIn June 2005, the Navy Seals were planning to lead an assault on a leader of the Taliban in the mountains of Afghanistan. Prior to the mission, Marcus Luttrell and his company enjoy a little horseplay and teasing the youngest recruit, Shane Patton. After loading up the choppers, Marcus, Michael Murphy, Danny Dietz, and Matt Axelson get dropped away from the village suspected to be home to Ahmad Shah. As the group heads toward the village, the choppers take a detour to another US base. Michael leads the team to a perch atop the mountains overlooking the village, where they get a view of Shah with a much larger group of soldiers protecting him. After staking out for the night, they encounter trouble the next morning when a goat-herding family spots them and warns Shah’s men that American troops are on the mountain.

Starring: Mark Wahlberg (Marcus Luttrell), Taylor Kitsch (Michael Murphy), Emile Hirsch (Danny Dietz), Ben Foster (Matt Axelson), Yousuf Azami (Ahmad Shah), Ali Suliman (Gulab), Eric Bana (Erik Kristensen), Alexander Ludwig (Shane Patton), Ruch Ting (James Suh)

Wahlberg and company brought the intensity in their performances. While they initially were able to have some fun with the light-hearted moments goofing around the camp, they transitioned to the war mentality pretty well. Throughout the film , they were able to give the sense that they are truly thinking on their feet in the middle of the firefight. Hirsch had some truly intense mental break moments, while Kitsch gave one of his better performances as a sacrificial hero.

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While Peter Berg has had some real successes in the past with Friday Night Lights, this film is a pleasant surprise in his filmography against Hancock and Battleship. In this film, he successfully created a war zone where he was able to pull together the depth of his characters and the intensity of battle. The first part of the film started with a slower, more comedic feel, as the soldiers messed around on the base awaiting their assignment. When it finally came time to enter the war zone, there were still little bickering comments that popped out but the attention turned toward the mission. In those first moments of gunfire, the soldiers snapped to action and fought with everything they had. Even as every vantage point was taken, they showed resolve and determination to fight to survive. While only Marcus survived the fight, the bravery could be felt of all four of the soldiers, and Marcus’s savior from an Afghan village.

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The environment of the film was realistic and intense. The fire fight that ensued on the mountain was chaotic. Even as the American soldiers fought their way through the endless streams of Taliban fighters, there was a feeling that they would be able to survive. Eventually, the fight became too much and even the movie-goers could feel the intensity of the onslaught. Each of the American soldiers that were taken out were given their due attention in their parting moments. Michael and Danny were the first to go, with Michael getting his heroic exit while Danny was provided one final moment to hold onto his life outside of his service. Matt’s exit was a little briefer, but he went out fighting. For Marcus, his struggle to survive, rescue by Gulab, and subsequent rescue by American troops became an emotional ride that gave honor to his survival.

Lone Survivor is one of the better war films to come out over the past several years. It builds emotional attachments with its characters and brings a reality to the chaos and dangerousness of military conflict.

Dan’s Rating: 4.0/5

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