Lone Survivor movie poster. Hell On Earth
Lone Survivor
Stars: Mark Wahlberg, Taylor Kitsch, Emile Hirsch, Ben Foster, Eric Bana, Ali Suliman and Alexander Ludwig
Director/Scriptwriter: Peter Berg with script based on the book by Marcus Luttrell with Patrick Robinson
Cinematography: Tobias Schliessler
Universal Pictures
Rating: R for war violence and profanity
Running Length: 120 minutes
Fasten your seat belts for a ride into the war in Afghanistan and this adventure really happened, too, and it reminds one of Blackhawk Down.  Here, director/scriptwriter Peter Berg adapted this screenplay from the book about Marcus Luttrell, the lone survivor of a Seal operation that went awry. This is raw business in the war field, so be forewarned. It amounts to, “Who can you trust?”
The film begins with Seal training with sayings such as “Find any excuse to win,” “Moderation is for cowards”  and “Be a winner.” In other words, don't fail, it is not an option. This is Afghanistan and the men (most with beards so it is hard to distinguish the actors at times, especially in the night scenes) are assigned to a secret mission to kill Ahmad Shah, who killed American soldiers. After checking equipment and bouncing humorous remarks around, the men are landed at night and move to higher ground. Unexpectedly, they encounter a shepherd and his goats. What to do? Kill them, tie them up and leave them, or let them go? They look innocent, so the decision is made (not unanimously) to let them go. Before you can snap your fingers, the group is under attack. Someone turned them in. From here on, it is a battle for survival as the group moves from location to location, always with the enemy right behind them. Their ammunition is getting low, they don't know the language except for a few phrases, food supply is low and their own wound count is getting high. When the first soldier dies, it suddenly hits the group that they may not make it out. Radio doesn't always communicate with their base and a rescue is available, but how to tell home base co-ordinates? It takes an act of faith to get this going and decisions have to be made, perhaps contrary to what they would usually do. Just who do you trust when under attack?  It was about this time in the film that the audience feels as though they are under attack, too, and you want to slide down in your theater seat.
The performances are well done, especially Mark Wahlberg, who has to take charge of the group and consistently come up with a solution as to what to do. Taylor Kitsch, Emile Hirsch, Ben Foster, Eric Bana and Alexander Ludwig are believable in their roles. There is hope, if only they can reach it, plus that decision that was made a while back? Never again.
I was impressed with the photography and action sections of this film. It really brings the audience into enemy territory and how men react in the face of death. Defending your country is everything and that includes the families left behind. There is no music, per se, in this movie, you are simply there. And as far as Post Traumatic Stress? As one soldier says, “You are never out of the fight.” War is, indeed, hell.
There are photos at the end of the film that show the real soldiers of this story.
Copyright 2014 Marie Asner
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