Based on “Operation Red Wings”, a failed SEAL Team 10 mission, Lone Survivor is the most recent feature from Battleship (2012) directer Peter Berg. Based on true events and not a board game, Lone Survivor stars Mark Wahlberg (who is also a producer on the film) as Marcus Luttrell, one of four Navy SEALs sent to kill Taliban leader Ahmad Shahd. Taylor Kitsch, Emile Hirsch, Ben Foster, Eric Bana, and Alexander Ludwig have supporting roles that, as the title spoils, don’t make it to the end.
Lone Survivor is relentlessly intense. The filmmakers don’t hold back when showing violence and gore – which is good. This way, they don’t romanticize the combat scenes. The majority of the film is one long battle, and while at times it was repetitive, it paced itself nicely and was remarkably immersive.
The character development is generic, but it serves its purpose. There are plenty of clichés, but they never are too “in-your-face” and they don’t halt an emotional reaction when something significant happens. There’s even a surprise or two – if you’re not familiar with the story. All this said, the film is still very “black-and-white.” Although a moral dilemma is presented early on in the mission, it’s still very “us vs. them” in the sense that America is undeniably the good guys fighting the bad guys. The Taliban soldiers are all nameless faces, similar to when you’re fighting a plethora of identical villains in a video game. You never are allowed to question the importance of the mission, you’re just told to accept that it’s what needs to be done. This last point works as a plus though, as the movie doesn’t strive to make a political statement, but rather honor those who fought in combat.
I had some technical issues with the audio. The clarity of voices and sound effects seemed to change randomly during the fighting; at first I thought it was just an artsy choice, then it quickly became tired and monotonous. The main problem with Lone Survivor though, is that it never builds towards anything. It’s just a series of combat sequences and then it’s over. It’s entertaining while it happens, but it never has the structure to make a lasting impression.
The thing is, you already know what you’re gonna think of this movie before you see it. If military movies are for you, you’re most likely gonna like this one (just keep in mind the amount of gore). If they aren’t, Lone Survivor isn’t the revolutionary film that’s gonna change your mind. The action sequences are great though, and it’s a nice tribute to those who served. 6/10.