Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Taylor Kitsch, Emile Hirsch, Ben Foster, Eric Bana
Director: Peter Berg
What's it about
The opening frames of Lone Survivor look like a bootcamp diary of what goes into making the US Navy Seals. More than the physical hardships its the mental tenacity that counts. You see these young men doing the drills, thrown into the most physically challenging conditions anyone could possibly endure and come out as a different person. This superbly directed and executed war drama is based on the true story of an ill fated mission into Afghanistan to eliminate a rogue warlord named Ahmad Shah. We are introduced to the main characters who play the core team of the Seals and then their commanding officer superbly played by Eric Bana who helplessly watches this mission go astray. What looks like a routine operation becomes a matter of life and death for these individuals with only one lone survior Marcus (Wahlberg) making it through to tell this brave tale.
Full credit goes to the casting director for putting together such a terrific ensemble. Not one of these guys looks misfit or out of place and am not just talking about the physical work that has gone into making them look like war machines, but getting into the skin of their characters. We watch them laugh, joke, talk about marriage, and hope that the mission ends with them putting their feet up on the bunker and enjoying a glass of beer. Unfortunately destiny has other plans and Berg does an incredible job of making this story believable and shooting it guerrilla style. We are right with the Seals on that hill top praying and hoping those goat herders don't spot them, and when they do we stay with them till the very end of the battle. The cinematography is outstanding and the research gone into putting the story is immense.
Lone Survivor isn't as gritty as Hurt Locker or smart as Zero Dark Thirty and there are moments when we feel like we are watching an episode from Homeland or 24. The combat scenes fall short of impressing us and get into a rut after a while. Also more than the tension about falling into the hands of the Taliban, it is the difference of opinion between the Seals that could have been better explored. Once the climax start closing in, Berg seems to be in a rush to tie up all the loose ends.
What to do
If you enjoy a good war film then Lone Survivor won't disappoint. Watch it for the terrific cast and some intense battle scenes.