Jean-Paul’s Rating: 4/5 stars
Bottom line: Inspiring real life story. Walks the line of patriotism and pointing out flaws well. Some pointlessly gratuitous violence.
“Lone Survivor” tells the true story of a botched Navy SEAL operation to detain or kill a high value Taliban target in Afghanistan. A four man fireteam is dropped off far from a remote village where the target is suspected to be. Their mission is to get to the village and identify the man and do what is necessary to make sure that he is no longer a threat to U.S. soldiers. Things quickly go south when a combination of communication problems and an unfortunate run-in with goat herders inform the Taliban of the SEALs presence.
That only one of the SEALs survives should be of no surprise to anyone who can read the movie title. The movie itself is more about human survival than anything else. It should come as no surprise that Navy SEALs are pretty badass. Their training alone puts them through the worse conditions imaginable because they just might face those conditions when out in the field. These four did. It is impossible to tell through the fog of war and the remembrances of one man who was almost dead himself what is fact and what is fiction, but if even half of what happened to these four is true, they all survived far longer than any mere mortal would be expected to.
I was pleased that this wasn’t a gung-ho patriotic movie. It tells the story of what happened to these four warts and all. From the very frank conversation over whether to murder the hostage goat herders to the poor equipment we send our soldiers to war with to the unavailability of needed resources to the unwise rescue attempt, it’s all there for you to see. That is rare in a movie that was given implicit approval from the U.S. Armed Forces.
There was some really gratuitous violence in the movie that I thought was a bit uncalled for and that’s saying a lot about a movie about a very bloody battle. Most notably, a long and drawn out head-shot of one of the SEALs as he sits propped up and slowly dying as his lungs fill with blood. It seems to me an impossibility that events could have been reconstructed enough to know for sure that he died that way and to put it in the movie as fact seems disingenuous. Maybe I’m wrong and they were able to piece it together much more thoroughly than I think possible.
Besides the gratuitous violence, I have only one other qualm about the movie. As is common with real stories of the U.S. Armed Forces, there was a role call of the service members that died during the mission. I think the filmmakers did a great disservice to the Pashtun villagers who fought and died to save and protect lone survivor Marcus Luttrell by not including their names alongside ours. Regardless, it is a movie well worth seeing to give you a good look into the life of a Navy SEAL.