Lone Survivor Blu-ray Review
War is hell. This much we do know. War is also hard to capture well on film. There are times where it doesn’t seem realistic enough. Other times the actors don’t convey the right aura to what it feels like. LONE SURVIVOR gets it right on the sheer terror of being outnumbered and knowing that you might not make it out alive.
LONE SURVIVOR does eliminate some element of surprise of the outcome with the title. It doesn’t ruin the experience. You go along for the ride knowing full well that many of these characters are not going to survive. The movie starts with actual footage of the training that Navy SEALs go through. It is rigorous and unrelenting. They have to not just be physically tough, but also mentally tough. Most do not make it through the training because it is just too hard. That is the backdrop for LONE SURVIVOR. You know these are the best of the best and they went through a lot to be a part of this team.
Ahmad Shah (Yousuf Azami) is one bad dude. He’s a Taliban leader who has been wreaking havoc in Afghanistan in 2005. He has people beheaded for helping the United States. He’s not one to be trifled with. Bringing him in and possibly killing him is a goal for the US troops there and the basis for the operation.
A team of four is sent out to do some recon and verify that he is indeed in the area. The team is led by Michael Murphy (Taylor Kitsch). He is joined by snipers Marcus Luttrell (Mark Wahlberg) and Matthew Axelson (Ben Foster) and communication specialist Danny Dietz (Emile Hirsch). Before the mission you see how close they are and how they share things about their life with each other.
Screenwriter/Director Peter Berg based his screenplay on a book Marcus wrote after the experience. Berg doesn’t make any political comments on whether the war is just or anything like that. That is not what the movie is about. Berg concentrates on the brotherhood that these men have.
The mission has its difficulties from practically the beginning. The communication to the base is spotty at best. That is a harbinger to the things that will come. The group comes across an elderly goat herder and his two sons. This poses a dilemma in many ways. 3 options are presented. Tie up the three people and see if they survive the elements. A second option is to just let them go and pray that they don’t tell of their whereabouts. The most extreme option is to kill them and eliminate the possibility of detection. In reality there wasn’t much debate to the situation. The soldiers let the people go and took their chances. For the movie, Berg created some conflict by having them argue about it. Matthew wanted them taken out, while Marcus argued for mercy. Michael ultimately decided to let them go. I didn’t have any issues with Berg fudging the truth a bit here. It is an interesting scenario that did add to the tension. Berg also succeeds in showing the more quiet scenes where the soldiers are waiting and wondering what will come next. That must be a big part of being a soldier. There’s a lot of downtime and a lot of preparation.
The decision does come back to haunt them. They are indeed ratted out and their cover is blown. This sets up a great firefight between the four men and the Taliban fighters. It’s exciting and you get put right in the action with the soldiers. They are outnumbers by at least 10 in a foreign land in foreign terrain. The communication issues get worse when they can’t convey that they need help in this fight. Each man takes hits and is wounded to various degrees. Heroism is shown and the drastic means that are taken. Matthew seems to take on the entire Taliban. Marcus drags Danny after he is hit. Michael goes on a suicide mission to make a distress call at a higher ground. The villagers who have been fighting the Taliban for years join the cause. Berg does a good job at not making his camera work shaky like some would be apt to do. I am looking at you Paul Greengrass. You see all the chaos that is around and what these men faced. It is refreshing to not get a headache from an action scene.
LONE SURVIVOR is a good war film about the brotherhood of men and the sacrifices they make. It ends on a somber note of pictures of the deceased soldiers in better times. There is one happy picture that has Marcus with the villager who helped him. We also learn that Marcus named his son after one of his fallen comrades. If that doesn’t affect you in any way, then you must not have a pulse.
LONE SURVIVOR BLU-RAY REVIEW
Video: The video transfer was a good one. The mountains and the pervasive colors of green and brown stand out.
Audio: I did have difficulties throughout hearing the soldiers talk and communicate. That is of course helped by closed captioning, but clearer sound would have been appreciated.
Will of the Warrior (28:05): This feature is about Marcus Luttrell and the SEALs as well. It details a bit about Marcus’s life. The parents of the three fallen soldiers also discuss their experience.
Bringing the Story to Light (4:44): It is a short feature on how Peter Berg brought the movie to light and the genesis of it.
Recreating the Firefight (10:27): This is a fun feature about the long firefight. It goes into detail on the set location, the stunts and the elaborate choreography.
Learning the Basics (6:02): The actors learn from Marcus and other former SEALs on how to shoot a gun, load a gun, different language that is used and how the actors are supposed to move out in the wild.
The Fallen Heroes of Operation Redwings (16:18): The three fallen soldiers in Marcus’s group are each featured. Family members and friends talk about the lives they led. Pictures of these three and the others that died are shown. This is a very moving segment.
The Pashton Code of Life (4:07): The villager who saved the life of Marcus is interviewed. He talks about the honor and code he lives by in his village.