Lone Survivor (2013)

In the recent years, SEAL TEAM 6 has dominated the news as one of the most fearless and heroic groups to ever live and fight. Gaining notoriety for the raid on Osama Bin Laden’s compound, the team has been the one that people have focused their attention on. However, there are many other SEAL TEAMS who have endured hardships and never gave up the fight. Their dedication to preserving freedom is unparalleled and their untold stories are nothing short of incredible. In 2005, four members of SEAL TEAM 10 were sent to the Afghanistan mountains to take down a Taliban leader. After the days, only one man came back to tell the story.

The four SEALS are practically blown off the cliff.

The four SEALS are practically blown off the cliff.

Stationed at an ARMY Base in Afghanistan, the members of SEAL TEAM 10 awaited confirmation for Operation Red Wing. Tasked to take out a senior Taliban leader in a small village in the mountains, a four man team was to take him out and return home. The team, composed of: Lt. Michael Murphy (Taylor Kitsch), SO2 Matthew Axelson (Ben Foster), SO2 Danny Dietz (Emile Hirsch), and SO2 Marcus Luttrell (Mark Wahlberg), went in with every intention of completing their task. Unfortunately, trouble arose and the men’s morals were tested to the extreme. While resting under trees that provided a prefect vantage point, three goat herders with radio communication to the Taliban stumbled upon the men and were taken captive. At that point in time, the men had three options. They could kill the men, leave them tied up overnight, or they could let them go, knowing that they would alert the Taliban of the a SEAL’s presence. After much debate, Lt. Murphy decided that the only thing to do was let the men go and move up the mountain to find a new extraction point.

As the men scaled up the mountain, the recently freed Taliban members hurried down the mountain to get to the village. In less than an hour, around 200 Taliban members had surrounded the SEALS and were prepared to fight to the death. With only four guns and a bond of brotherhood, stronger than anything seen before, the men fought for hours in order to stay alive. Taking multiple bullets to the arms, legs, backs, and chests, the men fought through the pain and kept protecting one another. In tight situations, the men had to jump off cliffs and roll down hundreds of get to what could have been their death. As the film nears its end, Luttrell finds himself in the village being protected from the Taliban by the oppressed villagers. Eventually, he becomes the lone survivor of the mission and goes on to write a book that recounts the story of Operation Red Wing and the brave men who died in the name of freedom.

Axelson and Lutttrell carry a wounded Dietz.

Axelson and Lutttrell carry a wounded Dietz.

I haven’t read Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of Seal Team 10, but it’s shot to the top of my list after seeing this unbelievable movie. From the moment I saw the trailer for this film, I knew it was going to be a tough watch and brutal look at bravery. I’m not ashamed to admit that I wept like a little kid during this film. It all felt so real and I felt like I really knew these characters who were living through hell right in front of my face. It was cringing as I watched these men slam into every rock and tree as they fell and with each bullet that struck them, they seemed to fight even harder. These men are the definition of bravery and courage and I’m glad that their contributions to our nation are being recognized.

Director Peter Berg has redeemed himself with Lone Survivor, as his lesser work includes Battleship and Hancock. His style is direction has improved greatly and he puts you right in the middle of the action. In the beginning of the film, Berg includes actual NAVY SEAL footage of training and the mental and physical hardships that these men endure. That footage really sets the tone for the film, as these men seem invincible and have this aura around then. We see these four men taking shots all over their body, yet they get up and fight harder than they did before. It’s only when someone dies, that you’re reminded that these men are still human. The way in which injuries and deaths are handled in this film is exquisite.

Luttrell, Axelson, and Murphy evade fire.

Luttrell, Dietz, and Murphy evade fire.

Leading the cast is Mark Wahlberg in one of his best performances to date. Known for being big and using his physicality to intimate others, he’s far more reserved here and his love for his brothers is what really shines through. There are some pretty gruesome scenes that Wahlberg hacked really well. Leading the men in the film, is Taylor Kitsch who does a really great job and finally breaks his Hollywood curse. Despite not being the oldest or most veteran actor there, Kitsch holds his own and connects well with the audience. His deep voice and large build helps him be more believable and ultimately aids him in selling his role.

The real standout performances come from Foster and Hirsch. In the film, Foster holds nothing back and becomes completely absorbed in his role, even if that means sacrificing most his face. His character is practically blinded and has lungs full of blood, but he powers trough to protect his brothers. His raw emotion and concern for others, even as he’s bleeding out all over, it’s touching and also heartbreaking. Hirsch, the youngest of the group, provides the most realistic performance and will really connect with you. His character is in charge of communications and gets incredibly shook-up after being shot repeatedly and losing some fingers. His sobs and confusion over how they were found so quickly is so hard to watch and he really exemplifies what war is actually like for men, young and old.

Amid all the violence and blood are some really gorgeous visuals, provided by cinematographer Tobias A. Schliessler. The ugliness of war is contrasted with sweeping shots of the mountain ranges and the beauty that lies in the forests.The loud and touching score enhances the visuals and will make the hair on your arms stand taller. Aside from scenes that do a great job depicting the fun lives of NAVY SEALS and how they interact when off duty, most scenes move at fast paces that never allow your heart a rest from its rapid beating.

A beaten and battered Luttrell looks out at the enemy.

A beaten and battered Luttrell looks out at the enemy.

There is no doubt in my mind that this is one of the best films of 2013. It certainly stands among the best war films that I’ve ever seen it’s one that’s really going to have an impact on people. It may be hard to watch at times, but it’s also important that you watch, in order to witness the sacrifices that these men made for our freedom. Marcus Luttrell, who had a cameo in the movie, is a true American hero and his love for his brothers and telling their story is evident in this film. I’ve watched this film twice now and can’t wait to show more people how outstanding it is. Never take your freedom for granted and always remember that there are those in this world who are going through hell in order to make sure that we can live a safe life. May the fallen members of SEAL TEAM 10 rest in peace.

Lone Survivor Trailer

5 STARS!!!

5 / 5 stars     

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  1. Pingback: Best Films of 2013 | Nick Tiffany's Movie Reviews

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