Writer-director Peter Berg (Battleship) hits a winner with this realistic war film based on United States Navy SEALs failed mission Operation Red Wings. Based on the book of the lone survivor, Marcus Luttrell, Berg creates one of the very best films about the War in Afghanistan – and one that finally dials down the jingoism to palatable levels.
It works because it spends time at the beginning to focus on developing its core cast – SO2 Marcus Luttrell (Mark Wahlberg), LT Michael P. Murphy (Taylor Kitsch), SO2 Danny Dietz (Emile Hirsch) and SO2 Matthew Axelson (Ben Foster) – before unleashing a brutal and unrelenting firefight when SEAL Team 10’s mission to eliminate a notorious Taliban leader is compromised. The result is tense, gripping and high-impact, as Berg isn’t afraid to linger on the blood, bone, sweat and tears.
The mission goes sour when the four-man team encounters a trio of goat herders loyal to the Taliban. The SEALs decide to set their captives free and abide by the rules of engagement rather than execute them to continue. It’s a decision that spells death, as the team becomes surrounded by enemy forces while stuck on an unfamiliar mountainside, with patchy communications and little hope of imminent extraction.
Everyone’s at the top of their game here, drawing out real emotion and powerful moments of raw humanity – scowling Marky Mark certainly ups the ante! On the technical side, the photography is particularly noteworthy. The action is intimate and gut-punching, but always clear and easy to follow. When the credits finally roll we’re shown images of the real people and are reminded of the humbling truth behind the fiction.
Lone Survivor is a hard-hitting true story about a mission gone horribly wrong in the War in Afghanistan.