When it comes to War Stories recent film outings that focus on Iraq and Afghanistan certainly raise a high amount of emotional buy in. The level of emotional buy in ranges from anger to grief as the world comes to terms of warfare in a heavily media saturated world. There is of course a the school of thought that with so much media saturation that we have become blasé about the whole idea of war. So with this in mind and my many years of experience as an on-line battlefield gamer and connoisseur of the odd tale from the battlefront, I wandered into the film Lone Survivor expecting not much more than another tale.
Based on the book “Lone Survivor : The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwings and the Lost Heroes of Seal Team 10”, the film quickly builds a picture of the camaraderie of Seal Team 10 and the failed “Operation Red Wings” mission. Starring Mark Walhberg, Taylor Kitsch, Emile Hirsch, Ben Foster and Eric Bana, the film has a distinct Black Hawk Down tone about it. The intro pays homage to the Seal training program, and its grueling toll on all who enroll.
The story then turns to Operation Red Wings, an attempt to extract a high value target from a stronghold in Taliban controlled Afghanistan. What follows is a master class in operations going wrong. Not only does the story tell of their extreme physical toughness, but also the resolve of men placed in difficult moral positions.
One thing I can say about this film is its raw; very raw. There are no holds barred here, as an audience we are dropped into the middle of the action and catch a glimpse of the men that make up Navy Seals and just exactly why they go through such extreme training. At times its a hard watch and at times you cant believe what is unfolding. As always there is a bit of artistic license in retelling the tale, yet the director and screen writer Peter Berg has gone well out of his way to tell it.
You see Peter Berg could only go on to bring this film to screen after he agreed to Direct Battleships. Berg then went on to pay himself the lowest possible fee as a director and pulled together an impressive array of Producers who all put in $1 million each. The buy in by Berg and his fellow Producers and Cast is immense.
Driven with a passion to get the story right he went as far as to meet with all the families of the members of Seal Team 10 to understand their very motivations.
While the cast do an admirable job they certainly don’t stand out, but in saying that this is possibly one movie where the reality of the storyline over shadows any star performance. The care and intensity of the battle scenes and the time spent reflecting the backgrounds of the main characters, in this reviewers opinion, makes this movie more than a mindless media portrayal of war. It paints a picture of highly trained individuals being placed into impossible spaces to achieve acts of great courage.
I think Peter Berg nailed this movie. While not being an entertainment powerhouse it is a very powerful testimony to those who go into harms way to protect those things they strongly believe in.
Rating: R16 Violence, offensive language and content that may disturb.
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