Lone Survivor: Real escape from Afghanistan

Mark Wahlberg stars in the gripping Lone Survivor
Mark Wahlberg stars in the gripping Lone Survivor
Mark Wahlberg stars in the gripping Lone Survivor

Based on a true story, this film depicts the harrowing experience of a Navy SEAL’s escape from behind enemy lines

By Brandon Era

Imagine that you are deep in enemy territory. You have been sent there only to carry out a simple reconnaissance mission but things take a turn for the worse, with a disastrous outcome.

Lone Survivor brings to life the real- life account of the disaster that befalls the four-man US Navy SEAL team sent on Operation Red Wings in Afghanistan.

The Mission

The film tells the story of four Navy SEAL operatives sent up a mountain range to positively identify a Taliban leader, suspected of taking refuge in a nearby village, ahead of a full capture or kill operation.

Already facing treacherous terrain, unreliable communications uplinks and inadequate air support, the SEAL team is soon discovered by enemy forces. Hopelessly outnumbered, the foursome beat a hasty retreat.

This leads to a series of frenetic shootouts, complete with viscerally-intense cinematography and blood-splatter effects. Thus, the M18 rating.

Battleship to Battleground

Director Peter Burg’s previous movie, Battleship, was promising yet lacking. Lone Survivor is a marked improvement. Still, it is essentially a typical military flick with lots of Hollywood magic sprinkled on top.

The technical skill that Burg displays in depicting the various combat sequences is enough to draw you into the squad’s struggle to survive, and for any military enthusiast to salivate.

Furthermore, the honest and heart-warming portrayal of friendship and brotherhood will have you rooting for the protagonists to make it despite the obvious spoiler that is the title.

Adaptation, Not Exact

The story is based on the book of the same title, Lone Survivor, written by Marcus Luttrell himself. Between the book and the film, there are several differing aspects. However, most viewers would probably not know or care about the differences.

In the film, there are many thrills and moments of tension. Nonetheless, masterfully-executed combat
scenes aside, the one-dimensional and caricature-like portrayal of the Taliban combatants does feel rather tastelessly done.

I feel that Berg could have taken the time to flesh them out a bit more. Honestly, the opponents could have been a little more realistically portrayed.

The imbalanced portrayal, coupled with the cloyingly heroic overtones of the narrative, puts the film in danger of being seen as too much like blatant propaganda. Having said that, if patriotism-fuelled narratives and lurid action sequences are what you are looking for, Lone Survivor is certain to excite you.

All in all, under the blanket of gunfire, a tale of true courage and the strength to fight against all odds is uncovered. Help from the most unlikely of sources is also something we can relate to in everyday life.

Despite in many ways being a typical military operation movie with intense gun battles and heart-in-mouth moments, Lone Survivor’s real-life foundations add greater dimension to the story.

The truth brings heartache and provocation of thought, especially when you realise how much these soldiers had gone through in the name of their cause and country.

Lone Survivor is worth watching, but mostly just to brag about having seen the cool parts.

This movie review was possible thanks to Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.

Lone Survivor [M18]

DIRECTOR: Peter Burg
STARRING: Mark Wahlberg, Taylor Kitsch, Emile Hirsch and Eric Bana
GENRE: Action, Thriller
RUN LENGTH: 120 min