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Home / Movie Reviews / Movie review: Lone Survivor is a scorching, brutal war film

Movie review: Lone Survivor is a scorching, brutal war film

Lone Survivor is filmmaker Peter Berg's harrowing re-creation of an actual covert operation that took place in Afghanistan in 2005. The film manages to relay that sense of abject danger while staying honest to what actually transpired that day.

movie-reviews Updated: Feb 07, 2014 18:53 IST
Jyoti Sharma Bawa
Jyoti Sharma Bawa

Four Navy Seals are in Afghanistan on a covert mission to neutralise a high-ranking Taliban operative. An act of humanity - letting go of three goatherds who have spotted them - lands them in an ambush.

Starring Mark Wahlberg, Eric Bana, Taylor Kitsch and Emile Hirsch, the film based on real-life events has been directed by Peter Berg.

War porn this is not. The film is going to scar you, make you flinch and will leave you wondering about the ethical and moral conundrum that is war.

Ashley Clark of Time Out writes, "After some pedestrian scene-setting, Lone Survivor hits its stride as the mission begins. Whatever the moral implications of presenting extreme physical destruction as entertainment, few films can lay claim to such a sustained, technically impressive rendering of the consequences of combat on the human body. Its most bracing scene, bolstered by appallingly realistic stunt work and effects, sees the Seals tumble down a seemingly endless hill."

It also brings home the inhumanity of war in all its harrowing detail. "Neither an anti-war tract nor a jingoistic rallying cry, the brutal but humane Lone Survivor instead registers as a howl of despair for so many young men and women lost in war," Clark adds.

Denver Post's Lisa Kennedy compares the film with 12 Years a Slave for its relentlessness. "Though not an exquisite piece of cinema - and it doesn't have to be to be powerful - Lone Survivor shares some of the unrelenting qualities of 12 Years a Slave," she says.

The actors also come in for praise for their commendable performances. "All praise to Wahlberg for a performance of shattering ferocity and feeling, especially so when Luttrell, at his most vulnerable, is offered protection by an enemy father and son. Berg rightly lets the people trump the politics. Like the best war movies, Lone Survivor laces action with moral questions that haunt and provoke," writes Peter Travers of Rolling Stone.

This film is for war film junkies as well as those who want to understand the human cost of America and the war it is not winning. "The performances are muscular in a film where action begins to take over not because of miscues by the director, but precisely because that's what can happen in warfare. Directed with care for its protagonists (and by extension all those who loved and honor them), this film still plunges the audience into the violent predicament of its protagonists, and keeps us there."