'LONE SURVIVOR' (R) (3 STARS)
Written by Peter Berg based on the book about Marcus Luttrell written by Patrick Robinson
Directed by Peter Berg
Actors: Mark Wahlberg, Taylor Kitsch, Ben Foster, Emile Hirsch, Yousuf Azami, Eric Bana, Alexander Ludwig, Jerry Ferrara.
While watching a movie about war we will never experience what the hell of combat really feels like. No movie can really put us there especially when it's a movie based on a true story of war. Hollywood has made effective battle films that get close to realistically capturing the intensity of war and it's effects. There is Oliver Stone's masterpiece "Platoon" and the over rated "Saving Private Ryan" (the first half hour battle scene is intense beyond words but the rest of the movie is pure Hollywood hokum). The newest, intense movie dealing with a fight against the Taliban, "Lone Survivor", has a middle section that is relentless and gut wrenching.
"Lone Survivor" tells the real story of Marcus Lutrell and three of his friends and fellow soldiers who made up Seal Team 10. Marcus and his brothers in arms are dispatched to try to kill and capture Taliban leader Ahmad Shahd. The mission was called "Operation Red Wings" and it seemed like a mission that could be carried out by this group of brave, skilled warriors. Though a man and his two sons, locals, stumble into Marcus and his group and the soldiers decide to let them go. This is discussed among the men in detail because if they let these men go, it is possible they could tell the others where these Americans are. This is what happens leading to the middle section of the story, an hour battle and capture of Marcus.
The beginning 15 minutes of the movie and the last remaining scenes are your standard war scenes that we have seen before depicted in the same way. Though just when we have thought we have seen every type of executed battle scene in countless war movies, "Lone Survivor" gives us a fresh, gut wrenching and long, relentless one. There is minimal dialogue in this movie and that is good, too much dialogue and phony story killed "Private Ryan". The gun fight and battle are thrillingly captured by director Peter Berg. The intense middle section involves the four soldiers jumping and rolling down an endless embankment of big boulders and rocks that punish and cripple their bodies.
The gun battles are realistically and graphically bloody and not for the squeamish. The bullet wounds and wounds from rolling down a death trap of boulders that these men endure will keep you on the edge of your seat while also making you cover your eyes. Actor turned director Peter Berg (The Last Seduction) has made very good movies before but this is his best, his directing is very impressive. The acting is also very realistic and subtly great including the first great movie role for Taylor Kitsch and another great performance by Ben Foster. Mark Wahlberg is dependably great here and when Marcus is saved after being captured it leads to a very intense ending.
Wahlberg has done a capture scene like this before in my favorite war movie "Three Kings". That scene in Kings is an one of a kind masterpiece but the capture scene here is a close second. Now Mark Wahlberg has been in two intense, masterpiece scenes depicting war and capture. We now know why film makers go after Wahlberg for intense scenes like this after another solid performance here. "Lone Survivor"might not be anything special and it is hard to watch. Sometimes we get desensitized to violence in war movies but here I squirmed in my seat, wanted to cover my eyes and felt a need to be on the edge of my seat. "Lone Survivor" is intense, beautifully directed and you will definitely shed tears.