Not everyone is going to be into the intense sustained violence of Lone Survivor, but if you like true military stories of courage in the face of nigh-impossible odds, this is your film.
It’s unfortunate that the only thing I think of when I think of Peter Berg as a director is his last film, Battleship. Seriously, one of the lamest movies. The idea alone was bad, let alone the execution on almost every level. it’s kind of surprising, really, because if you think back, he actually made Friday Night Lights and The Kingdom, which were much better received, and The Rundown, which personally, I kind of enjoyed in an empty calorie sort of way. But now he gives us Lone Survivor, an instense, military story based on real events. And it’s Berg’s best film, for sure.
Lone Survivor is the story of Marcus Luttrell and his team of three men are sent on a mission to capture or kill al Qaeda leader Ahmad Shahd in late June 2005. Things go awry and they find themselves fighting for their lives in one of the most valient efforts in modern warfare, let alone a war film.
Though this is a good film, is isn’t amazing. It has some things that needed some tweaking. What I do like, is the really intense scenes of warfare. Here you get four guys that are basically stranded in the middle of nowhere Middle East, out-numbered far more than expected, and these guys had no choice but to engage enemy soldiers. The action is intense and sometimes graphically violent – this film is not for the weak of heart. You’d think just being shot was the only thing to content with here? No, there’s some bone crunching stuff that may make you wince. No, literally bone crunching. And falling. On rocks. Multiple times. Ow, ow, ow. And to civilians like me, things seem pretty realistic on the technical level. I’d need someone in the military to tell me otherwise. But they really do a great job of keeping you gripped to the seat.
The cast is great; Mark Wahlberg, Taylor Kitsch, Emile Hirsch, and Ben Foster, play the four man team doing all they can to survive against harrowing odds. They do a fine job and showing us their brother-like bonds, their loyalty to each other and working together as a team to try to keep each other alive.
The script is tight, without dragging out the first third. We get to the meat of the story without a bunch of random subplots cluttering up the show, and it takes about an hour of the film.
Of course, the downside of that screenplay efficiency is that we don’t get as much character development as we’d like. They give us the required amount of exposition for these guys; a few things to make them more than two-dimensional, but we don’t get much more. Other than liking these guys, and respecting the real-life soldiers for their sacrifice, the script makes it a bit hard to care deeply for these characters when they face death. Speaking of which, if you have a film called Lone Survivor, and put Mark Wahlberg on the poster, it doens’t exactly leave much suspense as to who the identity of that survivior. Not that that was the point of the film, but it’s just a thought.
Not everyone is going to be into the intense sustained violence of Lone Survivor, but if you like true military stories of courage in the face of nigh-impossible odds, this is your film. It’s still certainly good enough for three and a half kittenhands.
~ Neil T. Weakley, your average movie-goer, hoping Peter Berg keeps getting better.