Based on the book by Marcus Luttrell, “Lone Survivor,” written and directed by Peter Berg, tells the true story of the soldiers of Operation Red Wings. The film stars Mark Wahlberg, Taylor Kitsch, Emile Hirsch and Ben Foster as four Navy SEALs on a mission to eliminate a Taliban leader in Afghanistan until it becomes compromised. Alone in dangerous territory and heavily
outnumbered, the team struggles to fight its way out of trouble and back to base.
The film opens with a montage of video clips of possible future Navy SEALs in training. The segment gives a harsh look at just how much must be endured both physically and mentally on the path to becoming a Navy SEAL, with men reaching their breaking points and even some dropping out altogether. At the same time, it shows the tremendous loyalty and brotherhood that forms, and becomes an important aspect in the life and duty of a Navy SEAL.
The characters are introduced as they wake up on base and begin their days as ordinarily as they can on a military base in Afghanistan. Bits and pieces of the lives they left back in the U.S. are put on display. Their personalities are almost immediately made prevalent through pictures and trinkets decorating their rooms, as well as through their mannerisms and interactions with each other. As the film progresses, those personalities are amplified as the action intensifies. One of the greatest aspects of the characters in this movie is that they are not portrayed as the usual action super soldiers with heavy guns and bodybuilder physiques. They are just people – U.S. soldiers doing their jobs to the best of their abilities. The film is not always pretty, but that is what makes it great. The acting throughout the entire film is phenomenal and one of the films greatest strengths.
The film has a few lulls making it less of an action movie and more lifelike. The audience is taken through the entire day of a soldier, ranging from high-tension briefings to amusing traditions, telling the story of the soldiers in a far more relatable and realistic way. Shots of the surrounding mountain scenery are breathtaking and peaceful. They almost make the viewer forget about the danger the main characters find themselves in and contrast the ugliness of the events taking place within the trees.
The end of the film pays tribute to the actual members of Operation Red Wings in an emotionally moving montage featuring pictures and video clips from both the soldiers private and professional lives. This montage serves as a reminder that they were not only great soldiers, but human beings: dads, husbands and brothers with lives and people waiting for them at home. The montage ends with a look at the real Luttrell and his life today, as well as a message about the people of Afghanistan whose way of life is still being threatened by terrorist activity.
“Lone Survivor” is an excellent film with a truly powerful story, strengthened by the fact that it is based in reality. It is highly recommended for fans of films like “Saving Private Ryan” and “The Hurt Locker.”