Featuring Mark Wahlberg leading a strong cast of male stars, ‘Lone Survivor’ depicts an intense Navy SEALs mission gone wrong in Afghanistan, with each heroic soldier putting their lives on the line for their comrades. It undoubtedly promises to be a thrilling account, but do critics believe it belongs in the upper echelon of war movies?
There’s nothing quite like a good, raw war movie — especially one based on a true story — so hopes are certainly high for Lone Survivor (in theaters on Jan. 10), the story of four Navy SEALs (played by Mark Wahlberg, Taylor Kitsch, Emile Hirsch, and Ben Foster) who get stranded behind enemy lines after a mission fails. So did the critics think Lone Survivor deserves all the hype it’s received? Find out!
‘Lone Survivor’ Reviews
The defining trait of Lone Survivor — with respect to both its characters and [director] Peter Berg’s approach to them — is professionalism. It is a modest, competent, effective movie, concerned above all with doing the job of explaining how the job was done. Afterward, you may want to think more about reasons and consequences, about global and domestic politics, but while the fight is going on, you are absorbed in the mechanics of survival.
Berg, who wrote and directed, is more interested in how men deal with battle than the ideals or the politics that put them there. What the movie achieves, with a gruesome energy and a remarkable reality, is a firefight. Bullets ripping through bodies; harrowing falls snapping bones; blinding pain; men soldiering on despite wounds that should stop them. Captured in uncompromising detail by director of photography Tobias Schliessler, this movie is not for the faint of heart.
All praise to Wahlberg for a performance of shattering ferocity and feeling, especially so when Luttrell, at his most vulnerable, is offered protection by an enemy father and son. Berg rightly lets the people trump the politics. Like the best war movies, Lone Survivor laces action with moral questions that haunt and provoke.
Luttrell’s operation — and his teams’ lives — might have been saved if they’d summarily executed three passing goat-herders rather than following the Rules of Engagement. I can’t imagine a single person watching the subsequent wave upon wave of Taliban fighters with their RPGs and machine-guns and not thinking, If only the Americans had put two bullets in the head of each of those guys, they’d be home with their wives and kids today. Lone Survivor is a brutally effective movie, made by people who think that they’re serving their country. But they’re just making us coarser and more self-centered. They’re perpetuating the kind of propaganda that sent the heroes of Seal Team 10 to their deaths.
While the SEALs fight bravely, there’s a sensation of excess to it all. Like the brutal 12 Years a Slave and The Passion of the Christ, Lone Survivor makes us question just how much realism we need or want. Berg has made a powerful film and an important reminder of what really happens when we send men and women off to war. It’s just too bad that subtlety isn’t a stronger weapon in his arsenal.
Lone Survivor sounds like it actually has a chance to touch greatness, and at least it appears to be an undying honor to the men who lost their lives in the real life mission this movie is based on. So HollywoodLifers, what do you think? Will you be seeing Lone Survivor? Let us know!
— Andrew Gruttadaro