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. Marcus Luttrell was the only member of his team to survive.
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Berg struggles to turn his admiration for the soldiers' struggle into something more than just a visceral physical experience. Lone Survivor is a solid American combat film outside of the historical context, but it's hard to separate the drum-beating from the quality acting and immersive cinematography.
Excise the flag-waving training montage and a few other painfully jingoistic moments, and you've got a crisply-shot, rousing and memorably-acted war film; one (mostly) attuned to the nuances of the conflict and patient with its characters. To the extent the film explores the Afghan villagers who saved and defended Luttrell, and the Pashtun code, it is fascinating.
One of the better films surrounding the American perspective on the war(s) in the Middle East, by far. It is as harrowing as you'd expect, but not without its moments of vulnerability. Watching men on the brink of annihilation, pushed to their physical and emotional limits - it's an intense experience, and the performances sold it. The cinematography is beautiful and raw, a very suitable choice.
The opening and closing montages, which set real life pictures of soldiers to Peter Gabriel singing David Bowie's "Heroes," set the tone for strenuously earnest film to come, which has all the subtlety and depth of one of those Nickelback National Guard commercials. But despite its hokey sentimentalism, Berg delivers some striking images, and the battle sequences are well crafted.
As taut as Berg is in action sequences--and Lone Survivor's war carnage is brutally sensorial-- he is not that efficient in creating a sense of rhythm, and therefore, sustaining tension. It takes a good 55 minutes of mediocre characterization and operational planning before gunfire strikes, and the action also gets repetitive and never properly breaths. The dramatic emotion of the village scenes come too late.
Lone Survivor is utterly successful at showcasing the horrors of war. Not even in horror movies have I seen characters this relentlessly brutalized; the difference is these characters never stop fighting back. It's expertly made and extremely depressing.