Lone Survivor: Film Review

Lone Survivor is the true tale of four US Navy SEALs on a mission to track and assassinate the Taliban leader, Ahmad Shah. Adapted from the 2007 non-fiction book of the same name, the movie showcases the story of Marcus Luttrell, the only survivor from the ill-fated 2005 Operation Red Wings.

A four-man SEAL surveillance team is assigned with the task to track or assassinate the Taliban leader. But everything goes wrong since the minute they land on a mountain top in Afghanistan. From letting go of the goat herders to the attack by the Taliban group to failed communication attempts. Nothing is in favor of these courageous men. The movie ends with an unexpected twist highlighting the compassion and bravery of the Pashtunwali clan. They are against the Taliban rule and live by the centuries-old ethic to protect a stranger from his enemy, even if it requires to kill or die for him.

Actor-director Peter Berg (of the Hancock fame) reconstructed the war scene brilliantly. The combat scene shown in the film is by far one of the best war scenes ever seen in any movie. Breathtaking stunts, handheld camera shots, excellent editing and sound effects combined with exceptional acting makes Lone Survivor the most intense war movie made in recent times.

Cinematographer Tobias Schliessler has shot the war scenes with visceral intensity. The never ending random gun fires leading to broken bones, pierced skin and bloody wounds is gripping and very realistic. The struggle for their lives, escaping bullets, dropping painfully down the stony mountains, the mortifying pain and injuries keeps growing worse with each passing moment. Adding to the visuals is the gut-wrenching, fleshy sound effects.

Watching it on the 70 mm screen definitely enables the audience to empathize with the pain and struggle the courageous four undergo. The gruesome battle scene is long enough to make Lone Survivor a "survival movie", a genre that is gaining popularity with films like All Is Lost, 12 Years A Slave and Gravity.

The Battleship director has kept the movie intriguing with the revelation of the soldier’s everyday life, outside the uniform. Berg introduces the Navy SEALs, enabling the viewers to understand and connect with them. Minus the uniform, they are just a gang of wisecracking young men.

Yet another fact worth mentioning about the movie is the introduction of the lead characters via the opening and closing credits. The opening credit montage offers real-life war training footage. While the closing credits feature the photos of the real-life heroes, Michael Murphy (Taylor Kitsch), Danny Dietz (Emile Hirsch), Matt Axelson (Ben Foster) and Marcus Luttrell (Mark Wahlberg). All the four actors got into the skin of the soldiers and left the audience in awe with their talent.

Why must you watch this film?

Though the movie starts off slow-paced, it gains momentum as soon as the disastrous Operation Red Wing gets under way. Lone Survivor is an impressive war movie that is fast-paced, intense, intriguing, enduring, taut, realistic and one that definitely deserves your time.

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