Lone Survivor

Lone Survivor posterLone Survivor is difficult to watch. So difficult, in fact, that I covered my eyes for the majority of the second half. It’s a hard-core war movie. It’s intense. Brutal. Bloody. And depressing. So unless you have the stomach for long battle scenes pitting a small band of brothers against a largely unseen enemy in the mountains of Afghanistan, then I suggest you take a pass.

The film is based on a true story outlined in the best-selling book, “Lone Survivor” by Marcus Luttrell (played by Mark Wahlberg). It’s about a team of four Navy SEALs who embarked on a covert mission in 2005 to capture or kill a senior Taliban leader who (in the movie version at least) was responsible for the deaths of 20 Marines.

There are plenty of questions of course about the extent of dramatic license taken with the story. But ultimately, it doesn’t really matter. The title alone is a spoiler alert. You know how it’s going to end, and – as far as I was concerned – it couldn’t end soon enough. The constant sights and sounds of gunshots hitting flesh, and bones getting crushed on rocks gets old fast.

Lone Survivor starts off like a testosterone-fueled recruitment video for men who want to be among the fighting elite, pushing themselves to the limit. Then it offers a brief glimpse into their ‘civilian’ lives. And then – war’s on. Cue an hour and a half of male bonding and bloodshed as Luttrell’s team gets ambushed in the rugged terrain above an Afghan village.

The film concludes with a montage of photos of the very real men who were killed in the firefight and attempted rescue. That’s when I stopped covering my eyes. No matter where you stand on the war in Afghanistan (and beyond), it’s hard not to look at those pictures and feel an overwhelming sense of senselessness. I understand and applaud the filmmakers’ desire to honor the men and their courage, loyalty, sacrifice and grit. But watching this film was pure torture. Consider yourselves warned.

Navy SEALs operating in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. (L-R) Sonar Technician (Surface) 2nd Class Matthew G. Axelson, of Cupertino, California; Senior Chief Information Systems Technician Daniel R. Healy, of Exeter, New Hampshire.; Quartermaster 2nd Class James Suh, of Deerfield Beach, Florida.; Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Marcus Luttrell; Machinist's Mate 2nd Class Eric S. Patton, of Boulder City, Nevada; and Lt. Michael P. Murphy, of Patchogue, New York pose in Afghanistan. With the exception of Luttrell, all were killed June 28, 2005, by enemy forces while supporting Operation Red Wing.

Navy SEALs operating in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. (L-R) Sonar Technician (Surface) 2nd Class Matthew G. Axelson, of Cupertino, California; Senior Chief Information Systems Technician Daniel R. Healy, of Exeter, New Hampshire.; Quartermaster 2nd Class James Suh, of Deerfield Beach, Florida.; Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Marcus Luttrell; Machinist’s Mate 2nd Class Eric S. Patton, of Boulder City, Nevada; and Lt. Michael P. Murphy, of Patchogue, New York pose in Afghanistan. With the exception of Luttrell, all were killed June 28, 2005, by enemy forces while supporting Operation Red Wing.

2 Comments

  1. Dan O., January 14, 2014:

    A pretty sad movie when you look at it in hind-sight, however, Berg realizes this and makes this more as a tribute to those who have fallen. Good review Hannah.

  2. Hannah Buchdahl, January 15, 2014:

    Thanks Dan the Man. Yours too. Always interesting to read the different perspectives!

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