Movie Review: ‘Lone Survivor’ Starring Mark Wahlberg, Taylor Kitsch, Eric Bana
The dialogue is short during these scenes, consisting mostly of commands and encouragement. Against all odds, the men refused to admit defeat, optimistically stating that they could easily win the day if they could get the enemy on level ground. “You may die for your country, but I’m gonna live for mine,” Axelson mutters as he lines up a shot in the heat of battle. It’s short, but effective.
The sound mixing, additionally, is well-done. The cracks of the rifles carry a long way in the mountains, and you can hear the echoes reverberate. In what’s become a trademark of Berg’s, he manages to enlist the work of seminal post-rock band Explosions in the Sky to supply the lyric-less, guitar-driven soundtrack (they also provided the soundtrack for Friday Night Lights the film and also performed the theme to the show, and the final scene of The Kingdom is very reminiscent of their work as well). Music is absent in a good portion of the battle, thankfully, as Saving Private Ryan demonstrated that a soundtrack isn’t necessary for these scenes.
As with most movies based on true stories, there is some debate as to the veracity of the film. Discrepancies remain as to exactly how many Taliban fighters the SEALs faced, with estimates ranging from eight to over 200. Additionally, the scene portraying the debate of how to handle the goatherds who discovered the team has come under scrutiny as to whether the discussion actually happened as it’s portrayed in the film. It’s a key turning point in the film, and perhaps the only time the morals of combatants are discussed.
Overall, it’s hard not to come out of the movie at least a little shaken, but with a sense of awe. Does it glorify the SEALs? Perhaps a little, but you’d be hard-pressed to argue that these guys aren’t extraordinary. The opening montage depicts BUD/S (Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL) training, during which candidates are forced to undergo some of the most rigorous physical and psychological tests in the world. One week of the training, known as Hell Week, the candidates are alleged to get no more than four hours of sleep…for the entire week. Michael Murphy’s favorite workout consisted of a timed mile, followed by 100 pull-ups, 200 push-ups, and 300 sit-ups, followed by another mile, all while wearing a 20lb. vest. So, there’s that.
It’s impossible to fully get to know who these guys were in two short hours, but in the heat of the battle, Berg showed their character and their determination, and I think that was the point. Lone Survivor may come off as a little too patriotic for some, but it’s not meant to be a recruiting film like Act of Valor was. Instead, it’s meant as a tribute to those who perished that day, and it’s truly an effectual one. Robert Penn Warren wrote of common men who have done good deeds. Lone Survivor remembers uncommon men who were forced to do extraordinary deeds.
Lone Survivor gets an A-.