One of the movies that released over the weekend which caught my interest was Lone Survivor.The main reason it interested me was that it is based on a true story. I am fully aware that movies like these are dramatizations of the events that have unfolded. I enjoy seeing these types of movies and pondering where the kernel of truth is within.
I will admit that I wasn’t expecting much from this movies as the last movie by Mark Wahlberg, Contraband, had been terrible. I was surprised to find that this movies was the exact opposite of that experience. Where Contraband had been slow and laborious, Lone Survivor was intense, engaging and packed with wonderful performances from the four major cast members.
From the title of the movie, you know that only one person gets out of this operation alive. I thought that this would make for a slow movie overall but this is not the case. Peter Berg does an excellent job of making you care about every member of the four man team that heads out on Operation Red Wing. The opening credits do an incredible job of setting up the movie. We are treated to a montage of Navy Seals in training. We are shown some of the various trials that they are put through to toughen them up and bring them together as a group. The short scene of them being dropped into a pool with their hands bound and having to be resuscitated on the edge of the pool was chilling.
The beginning of the movie is dedicated to getting the audience acquainted with Marcus, Michael, Danny, and Axe. Instead of giving us caricatures of marines, they are treated as people. They have their ups and downs, hopes and desires which are displayed to get you invested in these men. The performances by Wahlberg, Kitsch, Hirsch, and Foster take these roles and make them realistic and easily connected with. It takes this ordinariness and layers it with the idea that these are hardened men so that knowing what is to come is much more intense.
The critical point in the movie is where the operation goes wrong. It is nothing large, as I expected from the Hollywood machine but something as simple as a goat. Berg keeps the simple parts of the story and lets us watch the moral dilemma play out between the four. The tension between the four over which course of action to take is palpable. You know that whatever they decide that it ends badly. The hope is that they make the correct decision and that they at least get to go to their graves knowing they made the right choice.
I was blown away by this movie. I am not a fan of war movies but this one does an excellent job of drawing you in and making you vested in these people. The main characters are believable and easy to identify with while avoiding stereotypes. The movie doesn’t shy away from stereotypes but uses them as a way of adding depth to the main characters by their presence in the supporting cast.
I highly recommend seeing Lone Survivor at the theater if you get the chance.