The latest film from Writer/Director Peter Berg provides an intense, heart-pounding look into the 2005 true story of four U.S. Navy SEALs fighting for their lives in Afghanistan. ‘Lone Survivor’ takes place in the high mountains of the Hindu Kush region, as part of Operation Red Wings behind enemy lines, and is based upon the memoirs of Petty Officer Marcus Luttrell with Patrick Robinson for the book with the same title as this movie.
The focus of ‘Lone Survivor’ is less on the terrorist target of the mission and more on these U.S. Navy SEALs’ camaraderie and the brotherhood they have towards each other. Berg’s direction moves the film easily from the grins and giggles of good-natured, competitive, deployed down-range life to the deadly serious game of survival in a close combat situation. This riveting transition is best illustrated when viewers are fast-roped down a helicopter on a mountain ridge and we, the audience, become part of SEAL Team 10 for the duration of the movie.
As their mission to spot a high-level al-Qaeda operative becomes compromised by an overwhelming Taliban enemy force, the best military planning in the world succumbs to Murphy’s Law; where anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. These operators counter every problem they’re faced with quickly and we see how SEAL training has prepared them, both mentally and physically, to continue fighting, to never give up, nor let their teammates down. Everything those four warriors do is dependent upon their brother-in-arms next to them. Both contribute equally to their ‘good-to-go’ mental prowess and ability to stay deadly proficient even under extreme duress.
With Berg’s realistic portrayal of the U.S. Navy SEAL community, including the graphic firefight scenes and moral questions faced by these young men, ‘Lone Survivor’ brings us danger close to combat and on the level similar to ‘Saving Private Ryan’, ‘Black Hawk Down’, and more recently, ‘Act of Valor’. Exceptional cinematography and editing give moviegoers a feeling of isolation, despair, and perhaps even the sense of dirt in their shoes. With every jarring injury and wound, viewers will find themselves in theaters ducking bullets and squeezing armrests.
We are very fortunate to have U.S. Navy SEALs with these skill sets in our national arsenal and their families supporting them–and us. The film personalized the real warriors lost in the mountains on that day and the family members they left behind. ‘Lone Survivor’ shines not only because it tells us who these Navy SEALs were and how they died, but also for reminding us why they died–protecting each other.
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