Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Taylor Kitsch, Emile Hirsch
Directed by: Peter Berg (“Battleship”)
Written by: Peter Berg (“Friday Night Lights”)
Overblown action sequences and ridiculous stunts spell disaster for “Lone Survivor,” a true-life war film that turns what should be a serious narrative about military brotherhood into a farfetched, trigger-happy experience where courageous American soldiers are somehow transformed into camouflaged superheroes. The only thing director/writer Peter Berg (“Friday Night Lights”) could’ve done to make these men on the frontlines more absurd is allow them to regenerate body parts.
In “Lone Survivor,” four members of the Navy SEALs are sent out to capture a Taliban leader in the mountains of Afghanistan. When the covert mission does not go as planned, soldiers Marcus Luttrell (Mark Wahlberg), Michael Murphy (Taylor Kitsch), Danny Dietz (Emile Hirsch) and Matt Axelson (Ben Foster), find themselves stuck in the rocky terrain with very few options. When they run into a family of goat herders and decide to release them, the SEALs are forced to abort the mission and get back to safety before the Afghans blow their cover.
As bullets begin to blaze once the enemies lock each other in their crosshairs, “Lone Survivor” refuses to let up even when the action gets downright unbelievable. Sure, Navy SEALs are some of the toughest military personnel the U.S. has (we saw some great cinematic examples of this in “Captain Phillips” earlier last year and in 2012’s “Zero Dark Thirty), but Berg crosses the line when he basically gives these men the resiliency of a cartoon coyote.
While Berg does present a heartfelt story about the camaraderie shared between men in the military, the action is dumbed down enough to take audiences out of that more interesting storyline. Berg may try to humanize these men, but he does them a disservice when he gives them inhuman abilities. By doing so, Berg has, unfortunately (and probably unintentionally), sensationalized a tragedy instead of honoring the bravery of these heroes. Berg’s heart might’ve been in the right place, but translating that into an emotionally-telling war movie could’ve been done with a lot more sensitivity and realism.