Movie Review: Lone Survivor

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Stars: Mark Wahlberg, Taylor Kitsch, Ben Foster, Emile Hirsch, Eric Bana,

Rated R for strong bloody war violence and pervasive language, Running time 121 minutes, Action/Drama

Compare to: Black Hawk Down (2001), Act of Valor (2012)

Military movies are a tough lot to judge. You’ve got your military lovers, be they active soldiers or audience members with family or friends in service; and you’ve got the people that will hate it no matter what’s in the film save for a soldier doing something horrible to someone.

But this being based on a true story, of Operation Red Wings, specifically the story written about it; Seal of Honor: Operation Red Wings and the Life and Times of Lt. Michael P. Murphy. I can’t verify the accuracy of the story and this is just a review of the movie. And as a movie, if there’s any interest in the first place, I don’t see anybody being let down by it.Based on the 2007 book based on the 2005 incident, Lone Survivor tells the story of a team of Navy Seals that set out to capture or possibly kill a notorious Taliban leader. After an unexpected run-in with civilians, the team’s plan goes sour and survival becomes priority number one when the targets become the hunters.

Can't get enough bearded men.

Can’t get enough bearded men.

It’s interesting that director Peter Berg’s last couple film efforts would be as banal as they were, namely Battleship and Hancock, but Survivor is much more reminiscent of his 2007 film, The Kingdom, where the actions is about as important as the themes the movie wants to get across.

But The Kingdom was something of a moral conundrum, proposing that you question your own ideas about modern day war with another people. Here, it’s a little straight forward- there is a mission, mission goes bad, will anyone survive? While the title may give something away, it’s no less intense to see the SEALs go through their plight.

I’ve never reviewed a Channing Tatum movie because I dislike him so much as an actor that I don’t think I could look over any of his movies objectively. I bring this up because up until now I’ve considered Kitsch to be a “just above Tatum”-level quality. I had yet to see a film that was anything more than tolerable but his performance in this is much more than I’d come to expect.

Don't forget Ben Foster, who also has a beard.

Don’t forget Ben Foster, who also has a beard.

Though most of the principle actors’ main goals seemed to mostly have been “shoot, run, scream and shoot more,” all of them take it seriously and there are no phoned in performances.

To make one last comparison to The Kingdom, whose goal was to make you question, Survivor is much more hopeful in its outlook on people, on the world and you won’t feel so gray by the end.

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You may feel exhaust, though.

If you haven’t read the story the movie is based, I won’t give anything away, but the end result is one that doesn’t make you shake your head after two hours of senseless violence and say “What was that about?” Or if you’re a young man looking to join a military branch of some sort, say “F*#& YEAH!”

But then again, maybe the younger guys will do that for this one still.

Positives- Intensity hardly lets up, decent chemistry between actors, uplifting themes.

Negatives- Violence doesn’t let up either, films involving said content often send wrong message.

Grade: B

Side Note: The soundtrack was done by composer Steve Jablonsky along with Post Rock band Explosions in the Sky who also did the soundtrack for the football film also starring Kitsch, Friday Night Lights. 

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