Skip to comments.Movie Review: "Lone Survivor"
Posted on 01/20/2014 1:37:20 PM PST by LS
If you have read the book Lone Survivor by Marcus Luttrell and Patrick Robinson, you might come to the film prepared to see at least an hour's worth of SEAL training. After all, the book devotes considerable space to the rigor of the preparation, but this is all handled in the opening credits in the movie "Lone Survivor." (I have used Lone Survivor in my classes as a required reading since it came out, and it is now good to have a movie version.)
The movie is faithful to the book in most cases, although you'd swear that they threw in a couple of extra mountain slopes for the Redwing team to roll down (the extras did these stunts themselves, and did not use dummies. One stunt man suffered several broken ribs and other injuries.) Certainly you cringe every time the SEALs begin another series of tumbles down the rocky, wooded slopes.
For anyone who doesn't know the story, Marcus Luttrell, his Lieutenant Mike Murphy, Danny Dietz, and Matt Axelson are heli-dropped into Taliban country with the mission to hike over five miles to a Taliban compound and take out the leader known as Shah. Shah is first depicted beheading a local Afghan tribesman whom he thinks betrayed him. So the viewer knows what's in store for any captured American. While on the mountain making their approach to the compound, Luttrell's team is stumbled upon (literally) by three Afghan goat herders. The SEALs secure the man and his two sons (one of whom is clearly a Taliban affiliate), then have a heated argument about what to do with them. Luttrell insists that if they kill the goat herders, they will end up on CNN and eventually in Leavenworth. Moreover, he and Murphy have moral pangs about executing unarmed boys. Ultimately Murphy orders the three set loose, knowing they will immediately tell Shah and his pals there are Americans on the hill.
Part of the team's dilemma is that they have lost radio communications for an extract, and to get the sat phone working need to be higher on the mountain. But once they get near the higher peak, they come to a dead end, short of the top and unable to call for help. When the Taliban approach, all they can do is fight---and outnumbered a good 25:1 they take their toll on the enemy, but one at a time the team members die until Murphy sacrifices himself to get the sat phone to a high enough location to radio for help. Luttrell is saved only by falling down still more mountainside and eventually hiding in a rock outcropping. It is ironic that this frogman only truly gets to some safety when he reaches . . . water. While immersing himself in a stream, Luttrell (badly injured and wounded) is protected by a group of Pashtun villagers. Over the next 24 hours they risk their lives to protect him against the Taliban---whom they also despise.
Having driven off Shah once, though, the Pashtun villagers brace for his return with more men. But meanwhile a messenger has been sent to the nearest American base with a note from Luttrell giving coordinates of the village. The (air) cavalry arrives just in the nick of time, and PC or not, you want to cheer when the gunships finally unload on the Taliban creeps.
There are other twists and turns---Redwing reinforcements on Chinooks arrive but Luttrell's joy turns to horror as the lead Chinook takes an rpg right into the inside of the helo and explodes, killing still more of Luttrell's fellow warriors.
Wahlberg does a credible job as Luttrell, except that he is too small. Marcus Luttrell is a giant of a man, and often remarked in his book that it penalized him when climbing. Other cast members are solid. There is no need for wild special effects, and the music isn't particularly stirring.
What IS compelling is the story---and the miracle--of Luttrell's rescue. Murphy's words to him, "As long as you're alive, you're always in the fight," should become the slogan of American patriots everywhere, who might be tempted to give up in this dark period. But the most poignant scenes come at the end, when all the members of Redwing are shown in photos.
Two cautions for viewers who might think of taking youngsters: The film depicts combat; it is bloody and brutal. And it is filled with foul language---SEALs, after all, aren't the Little Sisters of the Poor.
Wahlberg, who has been the face of the movie and greatly publicized it, is an executive producer, and he will be very handsomely rewarded at the box office. While today was a holiday, nevertheless the 1:00 show was over 2/3 filled. Wahlberg has done a great service to the SEALs, to Luttrell, and to America.
I saw Lone Survivor over the weekend with my wife...loved every moment of the movie and the intensity of some of the scenes was almost too much...loved it!
Liked the movie but the “extra falls” and dramatic ending were pure Hollywood. I would have been more satisfied had they stuck to the book.
“As long as you’re alive, you’re always in the fight.”
The one small issue I had was when the CH-47 got blown up by the RPG. You have the Colonel standing at the back of a hovering chopper with the rear open on a very hot LZ and he's asking the rookie SEAL, "Are you ready?! Are you good?!"
Like they're gonna have a conversation about how ready they are waiting to rappel out of the damn chopper! I know it's a VERY small issue, but it just annoyed me to no end.
I agree. They purely went Hollywood on the end. I’ m surprised Luttrell went along with the ending.
Never forget those who never came back..
I never understood why they did not simply zip tie and gag the three, given that a search party would have been sent out to look for them after some number of hours. By releasing them right away, they brought upon themselves a Taliban attack many hours earlier than would have otherwise have occurred. In that time span, they could have been evac'd out of the area. While getting out, they could have marked the area where the goat herders were tied up with WP.
They said they would have been eaten by wolves. I don’t understand why they didn’t tie the man and the rebel boy and send the younger one down. It would have at least bought them another 1/2 hour.
I consider it highly unlikely that wolves would prefer humans to the goats that these three were herding. Wolves are generally afraid of humans, and for good reason - the ones that aren't end up extinct after wolf-human encounters. Besides, there are limits to how considerate you can be of foreign civilians. They weren't a SWAT team back home. Every Afghan civilian in that region was a potential hostile, and that went double for the males.
They could also have tied them up and suspended them from trees. Wolves can’t climb trees.
Just telling you what Luttrell said in his book.
I may check the movie out later this year. My question right now is, if you saw the movie, do you think any security secrets were inappropriately made public? I heard the details of Seal Training were shown. Was anything shown about the way our Seals train, the sequences, the intensities, the immediate motivational goals, that may give our enemies an unfortunate edge? I hope not. I hope the producers did due diligence, and did not overtalk in an effort to scare and impress the average civilian viewer.
Badly injured AND wounded? Sounds series ;^)
I looked at it as a descriptive movie about a true event. There was a lot of “Hollywood” in it, but that’s why they call it Hollywood. I know Seals are tough, but the laws of Physics still apply to even Seals. Some of the falls would not be survivable and the RPG’s hit waaay too close to survive. We like to look at it as a patriotic endeavor but Hollywood looks at it as “money”. I have no problem with that. I would rather have more of this than more zombies and homo’s on drugs crying about mistreatment. They know the formula works, but they would rather put out some other puke than salute the flag. Even Disney has given over to the dark side, IMO.
Interesting. I saw the movie but did not read the book. Sounds like the script followed the book somewhat closely.
What about werewolves? you think of that? they can climb trees
i hear they are all over that country
Weirdly enough, snow leopards would have been a concern, although they're close to extinct.