Director/Writer: Peter Berg
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Taylor Kitsch, Emile Hirsch, Ben Foster, Yousuf Azami, Ali Suliman, Eric Bana, Alexander Ludwig
121min Action Drama US
Inspired by the novel by Marcus Luttrell
Peter Berg’s hard-hitting Afghanistan drama, LONE SURVIVOR, is based on the true story of Navy SEAL, Marcus Luttrell. In 2005, he was the sole survivor of Operation Red Wings when 20 soldiers were killed in a mission to take out a Taliban leader. If you’re wondering whether you need to see another film based on this intractable conflict, the answer is resoundingly – Yes. Apart from being set in some of the World’s most captivating mountain scenery (Afghanistan’s Kunar Province); it also has some of the most technically skilful fight sequences that have ever been filmed. And after his rather glib outings in 2 Guns, Pain + Gain and Broken City, Mark Wahlberg’s performance as Marcus Luttrell’s evokes his inherent moral decency and integrity as a soldier, making it a moving portrait of camaraderie and courage in battle.
The story opens as the Navy SEALs are being put through their paces on the training ground, where they are encouraged to be aggressive, pugnacious and above all, to win. Arriving in the mountain location, dialogue stuffed full of cheesy male bonding chat about wives and kids back home and the usual war-mongering cant along the lions of ‘America is great’, soon subsides when a chance meeting with a shepherd leads to their wooded hideout being uncovered, leaving them exposed to high-skilled local guerrillas in a Taliban stronghold.
Lone Survivor is a brutal body-blow of a film with some devastating gun and aerial battle scenes. Subtle and moving performances from Mark Wahlberg (as Mark Luttrell) and Ben Foster (as Matthew “Axe” Axelson) also make this an immersive account of real-life warfare which engages our sympathies, while keeping us on the edge of our seats – some scenes are gruesomely difficult to watch.
LONE SURVIVOR shows how the might of the American War Machine is not a match for the deftness, skill and local knowledge of the Taliban fighters. And despite their high-level military strategising, this makes the American forces look embarrassingly inadequate, using a mallet to crack a pine-nut.
Berg’s screenplay here is far and way superior to previous outings Battleship and Lions for Lambs,possibly because in being inspired to rise to the challenge of committing the glory and ultimate sacrifice of these courageous men to perpetuity on celluloid, he speaks from the heart. There are digs at the American government on military funding and the subject of budget cuts and lack thereof. As war movies go, LONE SURVIVOR is a meaningful film that deserves attention. MT
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