Reviews

Lone Survivor

3

Peter Berg brings the noise...

Working from Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell’s true-life account of an ill-fated 2005 mission (Operation Red Wings) to take out a notorious Taliban commander in north-eastern Afghanistan, Peter Berg’s ferocious re-staging is part Oscar-baiting drama, part Hollywood action movie.

Mark Wahlberg plays Luttrell, leader of a four-man team (Taylor Kitsch, Ben Foster, Emile Hirsch) entering hazardous terrain to capture or kill Ahmad Shah (Yousuf Azami). Encountering a small group of shepherds in the mountains, and blighted by faulty comms equipment, the marines soon find themselves hopelessly outnumbered and retreating before a wall of bullets.

Berg previously directed Battleship and The Kingdom so it should come as no surprise that the combat scenes are fast, furious and incredibly LOUD, with men, rocks and scrub torn apart by continual gunfire and each gaping wound giving halt to the ricocheting camera like it’s been loaned from Eli Roth.

Still, there’s an immediacy and veracity to the action that’ll have you gasping, and the men’s courage in the scorch of battle is not to be doubted. This mid-section is, at pounding heart, a platoon movie in the tradition of 1949’s Battleground, Black Hawk Down and Oliver Stone’s 1986 Oscar winner, more about fraternal commitment than national politics.

Of course, being a Berg picture there are also missteps and a crushing lack of subtlety, most notably towards the end credits. If you want your war-on-terror films with moral murkiness, watch Zero Dark Thirty. If you fancy slo-mo and rock guitars, give this a go.

Film Details

User Reviews

    • StrapMouse

      Oct 11th 2014, 15:25

      5

      One of best war movies I have ever seen, it's up there with The Hurt Locker and it also manages to surpass others like Black Hawk Down and War Horse. Based on the true story of the failed Operation Red Wings, US Navy Seals Michael Murphy, Danny Dietz, Matt Axelson and Marcus Luttrell are ambushed by Taliban forces and forced to fight a small army of lead by Ahmad Shah, the very man whom they are trying to capture on their deadly assignment. This is Peter Berg's best film, I loved The Kingdom and Battleship but this tense adventure totally blasts those two out the water. The realism, authenticity, unabashed patriotism and themes of brotherhood are powerful and pure, there's no Hollywood cheese and forcefulness, just gritting storytelling, top acting and some defining action movie sequences. The stars are incredible, Taylor Kitsch delivers a career best, Mark Wahlberg is at his finest alongside Ben Foster and Emile Hirsch who bring a sense of earnest to the screen. I also thought Alexander Ludwig was exceptional in his supporting role. Boasting one of the best firefights in a movie, you are thrown into a bullet ridden fight that doesn't let you take a breath, you are in for the long haul. The brutality, the gun wounds, shots to the body and physical damage takes a toll not only on the characters but for you as the viewer, the crunches and falls are killer and teeth gritting to the point you're begging for the pain to stop, the team hit rocks and hard surfaces like ragdolls, thudding and smacking bones and crunching as they fall but it just goes to show how effective and harrowing this fine filmmaking is, it simply needs to be seen. It's a real big shame that this masterpiece didn't win at the Oscars, because I feel the performances, direction, story and sound design are awards worthy.

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