Lone Survivor (2013) Directed by Peter Berg. Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Taylor Kitsch, Emile Hirsch. IMDB says: “Based on the failed June 28, 2005 mission “Operation Red Wings”. Four members of SEAL Team 10 were tasked with the mission to capture or kill notorious Taliban leader Ahmad Shahd.”
The story of a group of military men becoming a band of brothers is as old as military men… and brothers. But Lone Survivor tacks on a serious gunfight and the result is a pretty decent film. In a sentence, Lone Survivor is a military bromance with some gritty gunfights. It may not sound great but overall it’s a fun film with few opportunities.
For starters this is not your typical war film. The trailer does a good job explaining things but long story short, this is based on a true story. Four Navy SEALs are tasked with eliminating a leading light in the Taliban. Now the trailer makes it clear that things go downhill and only Marcus Latrell lives to tell the tale. Marcus was a member of the SEAL team who made it through this ordeal and went on to write a book and subsequently this film. The writing is only as good as the original narrative, since the film tries to stay as close to the true events as possible. That being said, it certainly feels as though some of the plot points are overly stressed, particularly the graphic depictions of the gunfight.
Peter Berg has had a string of poor performing flicks, and some folks are calling Lone Survivor his redeeming film. It’s clear that Berg put a lot into this film. Military experts were brought in, Marcus and several other SEALs shared their insight on how this situation was orchestrated, even the special effects were engineered with input from the military. The cinematography is great, the cuts and flows between scenes work really well and yet something feels missing. One of the biggest things this film could have had going for it was the strong characters of the original event. While time is devoted to establishing these men as brothers, very little is done to develop their characters, to really show who they are or what they are about.
The actors all do a good job with Mark Wahlberg being especially noteworthy. It’s also worth noting that all of the key actors went through a military training program to help them get a better feel for what the real marines might have went through. The dialogue can be a little lacking at times and as mentioned earlier, you never really get to know about the characters, at least not enough to understand how they think or to really empathize with them. Overall the film is serviceable but is lacking in several key areas. It’s definitely worth a watch, especially if you are a fan of Black Hawk Down and similar films but it is probably one you can pick up on DVD or catch on Netflix.
OVERALL SCORE: 75%