Lone Survivor (2013) is a film I had avoided for some time. I am a fan of war films, always have been ever since my dad would get me to watch war and westerns with him as a kid. I steered away from this film for so long through not wanting to sit through another American propaganda film aimed at showing how valiantly they fight the good fight. But I decided to suck it up and watch it and I have to say, it was not what I was expecting.
The film follows the true story of four Navy SEALS on a recon mission in Afghanistan. They are locating their target and assessing the strength of enemy troops before the main contingent of American lads arrive. After running into some Afgans they have a decision to make, kill them and carry on or let them live but run the risk that they will alert the Taliban. I think we all know which option they chose.
This is a film about, as the title suggests, survival. We see these four soldiers get shot, punched, cut, hurt by explosions but the thing which will always stand out for me is the cliffs. These men want to survive so badly that they throw themselves off cliffs numerous times when they find their backs up against it. We see them bouncing down the cliff face, smacking their heads on rocks, crashing through trees and being thrown around like ragdolls. These scenes were truly tense; gripping the side of my sofa I watched and hoped that these men would still be alive when they reach the bottom. As if that wasn’t bad enough, they are getting shot regularly from the first encounter, and throughout the film we see them get progressively injured.
Every time we see one of the soldiers take a bullet we are reminded that this is a true story, actual soldiers went through what we are seeing on the screen. The realism in this film is something not often seen in an American war film. These are elite soldiers, yet even they have weaknesses, they are not bulletproof and are human just the same as you and I.
Mark Wahlberg plays Marcus Luttrell, the lone survivor. He pays this character very well in my opinion; he brings none of his cocky acting style to this role. Instead he swaps it for someone who never says they’re dying, but doesn’t say they will live either. You could say he is a positive realist.
What sets this film apart from most American war films is the stance it takes on the morality on how Afgans should be seen. Many war films will show them all as evil, unable to aim and wanting to kill every white man they meet. This film however shows us a side to these people not often explored; the loyal, compassionate and honour-bound side. We see that not all Afgans are Taliban, not everyone in the country wants to kill the west, but in fact some want to help, some hate the Taliban as much as the west and want nothing more than to see them fail. This is something any logical person knows before watching this film, but it is great to actually see this portrayed on the big screen.
So, all in all I was impressed with the films realism and different view on the natives. All of the actors did a good job, nobody stuck out as being bad, but similarly nobody shone for me. But if you like your war films then I would say give this a try, you might like it.