Lone Survivor review

Peter Berg
Mark Wahlberg
Taylor Kitsch
Ben Foster
Emile Hirsch
Eric Bana

“Lone Survivor” really puts the phrase “war is hell” in your face.

The film dramatizes the events of a true story, based on the accounts from Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell (played in the film by Wahlberg).

The movie introduces Luttrell and three other Navy SEALs, played by Kitsch, Foster and Hirsch, who go on a mission to possibly take out a Taliban leader in Afghanistan.

During that time, the mission goes wrong as they come across some herders who inform the Taliban of their whereabouts.

This puts the SEALs pinned down, and with their communication systems failing, they have to try and survive a fierce battle.

“Lone Survivor” doesn’t have the best first 20 minutes for a movie as it stumbles out of the gates a bit. The issue is that the bonding time that the SEALs have with each other features humor that feels a bit forced and it didn’t fully invest me.

That being said, once the group starts their mission and things go south, the film becomes very engaging and it had me hooked for every second.

The pacing is incredibly fast once things get going, with the second and third act feeling like one long sequence of action, and it’s the most intense bit of filmmaking from this year. The pure ferociousness on display for the final hour and a half is brutal and powerful.

In terms of acting, everyone brought their A game. All four of the leads show the desperation, fear and struggle that the real soldiers had to go through in the intense battle. Taylor Kitsch, who had a poor outing in 2012, was very good here and ended up surprising me. Ben Foster, an actor who is far too underrated, was also fantastic.

Mark Wahlberg takes on the primary role and he gives one of the best performances of his career. Throughout the battle his concern for his teammates is a weight that he carries through the runtime and Wahlberg expresses it very well. Another good performance was from Eric Bana, who may not have had many scenes but was still strong.

From a technical standpoint, the film is a marvel. The make-up is incredible, going to extreme detail to show the brutality of war. The cinematography and special effects also really brought me into the experience. The action was very thorough, similar to the finale in “Zero Dark Thirty.”

I would have liked the first 20 minutes of the film to have a bit more depth as I feel like I didn’t care for the characters as much as say “Saving Private Ryan,” for example.

However, “Lone Survivor” is still a very good, well detailed, strong acted war film that shows the horrors of combat and the moral dilemmas that soldiers come across in battle. High 4 out of 5.


Author: Matthew Liedke

Journalist and film critic in Minnesota. Graduate of Rainy River College and Minnesota State University in Moorhead. Outside of movies I also enjoy sports, craft beers and the occasional video game.

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