Peter Berg’s ‘Lone Survivor’ is an intense and gritty true account of a failed Navy SEAL raid in Afghanistan. Even though the title tells us that only one person will make it out alive, Berg pulls out all the stops, and gives us an hour and a half of sheer brutality, along with some great character camaraderie and tender moments.
The Navy SEALs are the cream of the military crop – the best equipped and trained for the most difficult missions. Nevertheless, sometimes things go wrong. In 2005, four SEALs – Lt. Mike Murphy (Taylor Kitsch), Petty Officer 1st Class Marcus Latrell (Mark Wahlberg), and Petty Officers 2nd Class Danny Dietz and Matt Axelson (Emile Hirsch and Ben Foster) – were dropped off in the rural mountains of Afghanistan by helicopter. They had to trek the rocky terrain until coming upon a village where a high-ranking member of the Taliban who had killed dozens of marines earlier in the week was hiding. The task was to take this guy out. However, upon arrival, the SEAL team discovered that the number of Taliban troops was much greater than anticipated.
The mission heats up quickly when an old man and two young kids stumble across the SEALs, creating a conflict of ethics for the team. One of the kids doesn’t cooperate with the SEALs at all, and could be a Taliban member in the making. The elite squad must make a decision about whether to kill the prisoners or set them free. After an intense discussion, they decide to let them go. Shortly thereafter, they come under fire in a horrific, seemingly never-ending battle.
Berg does a great job showing the physical aspects of the tough and tragic situation. As bullets, explosions, and debris rip the flesh off the soldiers, and blood continually pours out, we feel every hit and fall the characters take with loud and intense crunching sounds.
Even though Wahlberg (who’s 42-years-old) plays a man who wasn’t even 30 in real life, he pulls off the role. Never at any point did I feel that he’s too old for the part. The other actors are also very good, even Kitsch. The characters’ friendship and camaraderie at the beginning of the film lets us know that these guys will never each other down.
This is one of Berg’s best films, far better than his recent efforts like ‘Battleship’. With an impressive score by Steve Jablonsky and some great performances, this ultra-bloody and tragic story won’t soon be forgotten.