Lone Survivor

WRITTEN BY: Peter Berg
STARRING: Mark Wahlberg, Taylor Kitsch, Emile Hirsch, Ben Foster, Eric Bana
RATING: 4 stars

For those unfamiliar with the heroic true story, calling the film Lone Survivor sure does spoil the plot and take away a lot of the suspense. That aside, the film is a truly amazing story of bravery and is apparently reasonably accurate in most parts. Writer/director Peter Berg has done a great job stylistically in capturing the long battle sequences, including lots of gruesome blood. I often cringe watching Hollywood films glamourising war and the over-the-top patriotism for the United States, but Lone Survivor never falls into that trap of isolating other countries from enjoying the film. It is also great to see the real men at the end of the film.

Adapted from the book written by Marcus Luttrell and Patrick Robinson, Lone Survivor is about a Navy SEAL mission in June 2005. Luttrell (Mark Wahlberg), Mike Murphy (Taylor Kitsch), Matt Axelson (Ben Foster) and Danny Dietz (Emile Hirsch) are sent on a covert mission to kill Taliban leader Ahmed Shahd (Yousuf Azami) but stumble across some goat herders. They decide to let them go but are soon ambushed by the Taliban in the mountains of Afghanistan and are forced to fight until they can be rescued.

The chemistry between the leads is important if we are to believe their closeness as a team and we really do feel that they are a brotherhood. Walhberg is solid despite perhaps being a little too old (and short) for the role of the giant Texan. Kitsch, Hirsch and Foster were also convincing and we are invested in each of their personal stories. Eric Bana is also a welcome addition as their commander Erik Kristensen. My only real criticism with the casting was that some of the Afghani characters were clearly Caucasians with beards or Indians. It is a shame that many Hollywood filmmakers still think it is acceptable to do that. Surely there are enough Middle Eastern actors looking for work who could be hired?

True stories of war often tug at the heart strings and Lone Survivor certainly does that. While it could have been 10 or 15 minutes shorter, Lone Survivor is such a harrowing story that it is definitely worth seeing.