Movie Review: Lone Survivor

Movie Review: Lone Survivor

LONE SURVIVOR

Genre: Military Action

Rating: R

Running Time: 121 mins.

Premise: Based on a true story, four Navy Seals on a mission to capture or kill a high-level Taliban leader are ambushed in the mountains of Afghanistan, and struggle to make it out alive.

Behind-the-Scenes: Director Peter Berg (Friday Night Lights, The Kingdom) co-wrote the script, which is an adaptation of the book, an eyewitness account written by Marcus Luttrell, the lone survivor of the title.

The Good: Berg shows great respect for the story and its heroes, and bounces back nicely in the director's chair after flopping with Battleship two years ago.  The centerpiece gunfight takes up a good hour of the film, and Berg captures it with breathtaking immediacy and danger - it's intense, exciting, and ultimately exhausting.  As it should be.  The actors charged with portraying the four Seals (Mark Wahlberg, Taylor Kitsch, Emile Hirsch, and Ben Foster) are convincing in the roles, and downplay with great precision.  Kitsch is particularly great - this is his best film role yet, and it gives one hope that he'll someday be more than just Tim Riggins.  The script is tight and effective - it gets right to the heart of the story and doesn't add unnecessary subplots that distract from the action at hand.  The score by Explosions in the Sky is simple yet effective.

The Bad: There is not a lot of room for character development, so other than the fact that we like the actors and respect the real-life soldiers who sacrificed their lives, the film never really allows the audience to develop much of an attachment to anybody.  Some of the characters' deaths are milked for ultimate gratuitous impact (bullets piercing bodies in slo-mo), which only serves to take the viewer out of the moment.  Given that Wahlberg narrates the opening and the movie is called Lone Survivor, there isn't much suspense as to who might make it out alive.

Should You See It?: Yes.  The movie's sustained violence may be tough for some to sit through, but as a story about true courage in the face of near-impossible odds, Lone Survivor gets the job done.

Star Rating: ***1/2 out of 5 stars.

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