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Lone Survivor (2013)

Review by-Jarrett Leahy

Based on the best selling book of the same name, Peter Berg’s Lone Survivor tells the harrowing account of the 2005 Navy Seal mission to capture infamous Al Qaeda leader Ahmad Shah. When the operation becomes compromised, the four man team, deep behind enemy lines, is thrust into a savage battle for their lives.

Normally a war film with cast that includes Mark Wahlberg, Ben Foster, Emile Hirsch and Eric Bana would be a no-brainer blockbuster. But initial reactions to the movie’s trailers were mixed, with some (including myself) concerned that what was being shown felt more like a U.S. military recruiting video than an actual movie. However, for those who may still have personal trepidations, hopefully I can ease those concerns by saying Lone Survivor is an impressive war film that remains true to its genre roots.

The reality of the world we live in is we are still in conflict with the combatants depicted in this film. But director Peter Berg makes a conscious decision to avoid delving into the politics that surround this mission, instead highlighting the camaraderie and brotherhood shared between these men even under the most dire of circumstances. Like many other successful war films, Berg attempts to immerse the viewer as accurately as possible, in what it was like to be one of those soldiers under fire. With bullets, RPGs and explosions coming from, what at times feels like every direction, the battle violence depicted is some of the most unrelenting and graphic shown in recent memory, although at no point did I ever feel it being exploitative or an over-exaggeration for the effect.

The star studded cast doesn’t disappoint, with many of the film’s lead actors are no stranger to military films. Wahlberg’s previous efforts includes a headlining role in David O’ Russell’s Three Kings, Ben Foster played a Casualty Notification officer in The Messenger, Eric Bana was part of the impressive cast of Black Hawk Down, and Taylor Kitsch starred in Peter Berg’s 2012 directorial effort, Battleship. Throw in the ever-talented Emile Hirsch (Into the Wild, Milk) and you have a group of actors with the skillset and range to capture on film the emotional highs and lows brought on by combat.

While I recommend caution to some of the more squeamish viewers, for action fans and war film connoisseurs, Lone Survivor is a definite must watch. What Berg manages to capture on film is one of the most intense and graphic depictions of modern warfare since Ridley Scott’s 2001 classic, Black Hawk Down.

Grade: B+

Oh, and don’t forget to visit my Poll Questions page to cast  your vote on which Mark Wahlberg performance is his best…

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