Director: Peter Berg (Battleship, Hancock)
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Ben Foster, Emile Hirsch, Taylor Kitsch
Run-time: 121 minutes
IN SHORT: Although mostly plotless and trite, Lone Survivor is so realistic, you'll be dodging imaginary bullets in your cinema seat.
When their operation is compromised and all communication with their base is lost, a Navy SEAL team featuring Mark Wahlberg, Taylor Kitsch, Ben Foster and Emile Hirsch, are left stranded in the Afghan outback. Their secret operation turns into all-out warfare as the men are forced to fight for their lives in one of the most unmerciful and harshest of terrains. Based upon Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell's (played by Wahlberg in the film) autobiographical book, Lone Survivor respects its source material by adopting a brutally high level of realism.
And it's Lone Survivor's effective, and faithful, recreation of warfare that makes the movie such captivating viewing. Director Peter Berg successfully employs a raw, guerrilla style of film-making with plenty of handheld and POV shots immersing the audience into this perilous situation. With rocket launchers, smoke grenades and even specks of blood hitting the lens, Lone Survivor is an assault on the senses, never easing up on the viewer. And the movie would be nothing without its visceral sound design, which was nominated for two Academy Awards. The audio track adds a sense of dread and further enhances the chaos on-screen as a cacophony of bullets and shrapnel spray through the air at an unrelenting, sometimes deafening rate.
Lone Survivor is a limited experience, however. Wahlberg and co all turn out solid performances but aside from brief conversations about family and aspirations, these SEALs are characterless and one-dimensional. In the end credits, photographs of the real 'Operation Red Wings' team are displayed and I found myself struggling to place their names, which isn't a good sign. As a survival, one-man-against-the-odds movie, Peter Berg's movie is a fine technical achievement. However, Lone Survivor lacks the depth of both character and storyline to be ranked amongst the great contemporary war movies such as Saving Private Ryan or Black Hawn Down.