Today’s review: Lone Survivor
Rating certificate: MA 15+ (Australia), R (USA), 15 (UK)
Director: Peter Berg
Released: January 31, 2014
During the war in Afghanistan, four Navy SEALs set out on a covert mission to eliminate a high-level Taliban operative. The mission proves to be ill-fated however, when the enemy forces ambush them in the Hindu Kush region of Afghanistan. The film stars Mark Wahlberg as Marcus Luttrell, Taylor Kitsch as Lieutenant Michael “Murph” Murphy, Emile Hirsch as Danny Dietz, Ben Foster as Matthew “Axe” Axelson, and Eric Bana as Lieutenant Commander Erik S. Kristensen.
So Lone Survivor wasn’t a movie that I went in desperately wanting to see. A friend suggested I go and see it with him, so I went, not really knowing what to expect. I have, of course, had previous experience with war movies such as Saving Private Ryan (regarded as the best war movie of all time, doncha know), Flags of Our Fathers, Schindler’s List, and The Boy in the Striped Pajamas (not sure if this counts as an actual WAR movie, but it surrounds the concept of the holocaust and I was left emotionally scarred). I know that war movies are meant to be gory and violent, such is the nature of war but for me, Lone Survivor was a bit too violent. Don’t get me wrong, it was really well done in the effects and makeup department, but I felt that the action scenes dragged on a bit.
Saying that, the movie is based on a true story, so I suppose only so much can be altered and added to make sure the original story still rings true. I wasn’t familiar with the actors in this movie, so it was interesting to see what they brought to the movie and how I would connect and empathise with them. Needless to say, I was rooting profusely for them by the end, no, by halfway through the film once it reached its most intense and feels-y point. Wahlberg and the rest of the cast brought a very real feeling to their characters, gave them a sense of humanity through their flaws, and their very raw performances made for a lot of empathy from the audience.
In contrast to this, I felt that too much time was spent on the action scenes, with a lot of focus on the climax of blazing guns and cries of pain. It didn’t take very long for an action scene to arise, and if I’m honest they dragged a bit. I felt a bit more of a buildup of tension would have been in order. Don’t get me wrong, I was very engaged, but I wasn’t on the edge of my seat in suspense. I also think that more time spent on character development would have brought a more realistic and human sense to the movie. Sure, it was easy to sympathise with the characters, who wouldn’t with someone who was in a situation like theirs? I never felt overly emotionally attached to them though, and that made it a little harder to connect with them.
Overall, Lone Survivor is not the best war movie I’ve ever seen. That spot is reserved for Saving Private Ryan, but if we’re to compare every single war movie ever made with SPR, you’re going to end up disappointed. It was a good story with an interesting plotline. The characters, although acted very well, lacked depth, making if difficult to find connections with them. The action scenes, although well acted out and with brilliant effects, did drag on a bit. More buildup of tension may have been in order.