Synopsis: Based on the failed June 28, 2005 mission “Operation Red Wings”. Four members of SEAL Team 10 were tasked with the mission to capture or kill notorious Taliban leader Ahmad Shahd.
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There have been a number of war films, so many that they deserve their own genre. A majority of war films are generally based on actual events, so being that Lone Survivor falls into this genre, what differentiates this film from others? In short I would say that this film captures the brutality of war more accurately than many similar films. A plethora of blood and gore is what most films use to depict the brutality, and while Lone Survivor does have that, it is the focus on the cause of the injuries that honestly shows the pain and intensity of war. The harsh falls followed by the sounds of bones breaking, the sound of bullets tearing through the skin, and the realistic emotional responses from these actors are all elements that make this film stand out.
While the film stars Mark Wahlberg (whose performance is adequate), it is Ben Foster and Taylor Kitsch that shine in my opinion. They fit into the role of the soldier very well and courageously take a beating both physically and mentally while authentically conveying their diminished spirit. They are the catalyst that starts the film’s initial suspense as Wahlberg carries it for the rest of the film. Emile Hirsch on the other hand did not fit as well into the soldier role. While abstaining from preconceived notions due to his previous roles of more innocent characters, I still couldn’t accept him as a soldier. His candid nature and vocal diction made him an outlier among the group while the rest seemed the grasp the sense of urgency and panic.
Director Peter Berg is a bit of a wildcard. He’s had some horrible films like Battleship, some mediocre like The Rundown, and some great ones like Friday Night Lights. Fortunately, Lone Survivor falls into one of his better films, but while he tells a great story he still has a few noticeable negative moments throughout the film. For those that hate lens flare, it’s a bit overdone in this film. Much like a Michael Bay film, there is quite a bit of camera panning and zooming accompanied by lens flare with the movement of the camera. There are some points where it is appropriate like the sunrise over the military base or as a means to depict time passing and the stillness of the wooded area. Besides those two moments, these camera shots are slightly overused but not do not distract from the overall film. Despite some stereotypical cinematography, there are many great action shots and overall landscape shots that accurately create the setting of war.
Overall I would say that I enjoyed this film. It accurately depicted the struggle of war and courage of the soldiers better than most films of this nature. The way that the brutality is depicted is what makes this film so honest and the combination of acting, cinematography, and storyline are the building blocks of that depiction. For those war film fanatics or those that casually enjoy a war flick, I would highly recommend this film. Even if you’re not a fan of war films, I think that this film will invoke a strong emotional response that gives Lone Survivor lasting appeal.
Lone Survivor – 8 out of 10
A brutal war film that accurately depicts the brutality of war…