<Review by: Sailesh Ghelani>
Directed by Peter Berg. Starring Mark Wahlberg, Ben Foster, Emile Hirsche Taylor Kitsch, Eric Bana, Alexander Ludwig, Ali Suliman
Lone Survivor is a film about chest thumping American soldiers in some thrillingly scary battle sequences on a clearly ill conceived mission.
Yes, Lone Survivor is based on yet another book – like 12 Years A Slave and so many other films nowadays – by yet another survivor (the only one) of horrible circumstances. The film starts off with real-life footage of US troops being put through the grinder of training to withstand all sorts of horrendous conditions. The reasoning, I surmise, is to lend credibility to the second half of Lone Survivor, which shows us four US SEALs fending off dozens of Taliban and soldiering on after losing fingers and being shot several times.
Marcus Luttrell (Mark Wahlberg), Mike Murphy (Taylor Kitsch), Matt Axelson (Ben Foster) and Danny Dietz (Emile Hirsch) are air dropped in the middle of Afghanistan to kill off a heavily guarded Taliban leader without proper communication equipment and apparently no way of getting out, since they only seem to have a paper map and no GPS!
The four are spotted by three goat herders, one of whom is a Taliban sympathiser. But after some internal conflict about whether to shoot the prisoners or not, the SEALs decide to let them go and hike up a mountain peak, but they end up getting lost. And then found by the Taliban who at first seem outgunned but then they bring out an RPG (Rocket Propelled Grenade or bazooka) and all hell breaks loose.
Actor turned director Peter Berg has wonderfully captured the violent battle. It is extreme and brutal. The SEALs are ripped apart and battered beyond imagination. But they move on. They are shot and cut by shrapnel but they ‘man up’. Training and rigorous battle drills have hardened their bodies to withstand hurtling down rocky mountains as their bones shatter and dislocate.
In the background Commander Erik Kristensen (Eric Bana) on the base seems helpless. But why? They air dropped them surely they can pick them up. And why only four men when at the end of the mission they send in an army and achieve their mission? And why didn’t they realise that none of their communications equipment would work? Doesn’t really show the American military intelligence in a very good light.
The bravery of these soldiers who are bred to fight is spectacular. But does this bravery also come out of a false sense of bravado? Do they not seem a tad overconfident? And wasn’t it overconfidence – on the part of their superiors – that probably got them into this situation?
The Lone Survivor of the movie, Marcus Luttrell gives the voiceover for the film and it’s a lot of unimpressive garbled philosophy. A turning point in the film is when Marcus is aided by an Afghani man and his son. Marcus asks the man several times why he is doing this and only in the end credits do we get an answer. Clearly there were more heroes to this tale than just one.