Your everyday run of the mill Navy Seal member has been through a lot before even picking up a weapon and backpack. This film demands that we know this. We see them pushed to the edge – and over – again and again. Dared to quit. Urged to give up.
Only the strong make it through. The ones that are brave, tough and lucky enough share a strong bond of brotherhood.
Then they get to be shot at for a living.
So when a four man crew finds themselves stranded deep in hostile Taliban infested Afghan territory after an assassination attempt fails, a running gun battle ensues as they try valiantly to reach their safe zone, all while a small army tracks their every step.
Superior training versus superior numbers. Such odds never bothered Arnie or Sly in their heydays, but this is supposed to be real life…
… and it probably is. But real life augmented and enhanced for storytelling purposes. Our brave quarter face insurmountable odds. They see countless bullets zing past them at close range, while nailing a high percentage of their own. They suffer the indignity of numerous flesh wounds, but the most brutal treatment seems to come from the harsh terrain.
The centrepiece of the film is undoubtedly two separate sequences where the Americans face a choice of remaining hedged in and under fire, or bouncing – literally, bouncing – down steep cliff faces, losing skin and bruising every square inch of themselves to draw breath for just a while longer.
They are both gruelling and bruising, and to be frank without these unforgettable scenes Lone Survivor would just be another war film espousing the virtues of the brave US soldiers. Like these fine men fight and die for their country, the brave stuntmen take their lumps on jagged rocks so that this film might be remembered for just a bit longer…
It’s a small but effective cast. Eric Bana plays the obligatory operation manager at home base. The guy who demands we ‘bring our boys home’ despite being nearly powerless to do so. Mark Wahlberg, Taylor Kitsch, Emile Hirsch and Ben Foster play the four soldiers in the field, which makes it a relatively short exercise working out who will make it – I mean consider the title and the pecking order. (They might as well have called it Marky-Mark makes it.)
Final Rating – 7.5 / 10. By dirtying up the cast and only exaggerating the likely reality a little lot, Lone Survivor tells a simple story of uncommon bravery, which seems even more remarkable given its foundations of truth.