HMT Movie Club: Lone Survivor

Lone Survivor

Set in the Afghanistan War in 2008, a Navy SEAL team was tasked in the assassination of a Taliban leader. The humanity of SEAL Team 10, along with technical glitches, lead to a grueling battle with Taliban fighters, and Lone Survivor tells of the quest for survival for the sole surviving Team 100 member, Marcus Luttrell.

Directed by Peter Berg, Lone Survivor stars Mark Wahlberg as Marcus Luttrell, the titular character, alongside Taylor Kitsch, Emile Hirsch, Ben Foster and Eric Bana, and is a dramatic reenactment of the true accounts of failed Navy SEALs operation, Operation Red Wings.

SEAL Team 10, led by Lt. Murph (Taylor Kitsch) was one of the teams assigned on the mission to capture and kill Ahmad Shah, one of the leaders of the Taliban forces. Tactical factors forced Team 10 to make last minute changes, leaving them exposed to enemy forces. A streak of humanity by Team 10 – the release of three goatherds who spotted them – led to the blowing of their cover, and a brutal firefight with Taliban fighters.

Bad luck, along with technical glitches, left Team 10 alone in their fight for survival against relentless waves of Taliban forces. The heavy gunfire made it difficult for reinforcements to enter the battle zone, leaving Team 10 stranded. Outnumbered and overwhelmed, one by one, members of Team 10 were killed, leaving Marcus Luttrell (Mark Wahlberg) as the sole surviving soldier. Lone Survivor tells the tale of his struggle for survival through his eyes.

Having directed movies that have failed to impress, including superhero movie Hancock and 2012’s Battleship, Lone Survivor is Peter Berg’s return to form as each moment of the movie keeps the audience constantly at the edge of their seats.

The tension and fight scenes between SEAL Team 10 and the Taliban forces are the highlight of the movie. While the buildup towards the climax was rather slow, with much of the initial moments of the movie dedicated to giving the back story of Team 10, the fight scenes are all extremely fast paced and intense. Often, Team 10 comes close to being captured by the Taliban forces, only to escape at the last moments. The many close shaves that Team 10 has with the Taliban forces leaves one constantly fearing for their lives.

At the same time, the story itself touches the hearts of the audience, with numerous heartwarming moments in the movie showing a glimpse of the benevolence of both the soldiers and the Afghans. For instance, the final moments of the movie where the American soldiers and Afghan villagers join forces to help in each other’s survival certainly helped in restoring some faith in humanity. Heart-wrenching moments are aplenty, with the painful details that were put in each of the soldier’s deaths, and especially in the flashback moments right before each of them dies.

Peter Berg has put in much emphasis in the details of the movie to ensure extreme realism on the battlefield. On top of all the blood and gore from all the very realistic gunshot and shrapnel wounds, the sound effects are also excellent, ranging from all the crossfires between Team 10 and the Taliban forces to the minor details such as the numerous falls that Team 10 would take throughout the movie. Even the portrayal of the military is extremely realistic, without the glitzy and futuristic technology of many other films of similar genre.

It is nice to see Mark Wahlberg once again attempting a more serious role after the recent light-hearted ones that he has taken on of late (such as Ted, Pain & Gain, 2 Guns), but the credits of the rest of the cast should not be discounted. The excellence of the cast can be seen in even the minor characters, such as the extreme hatred and disgust that the goatherds felt while being held captive as Team 10 decided their fate.

To some, Lone Survivor may be just another war/action flick, but the background story and the realism portrayed certainly makes for a movie that would pull the strings of many hearts of fans of historical films and military men alike.

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