Lone Survivor cast places audiences in fantastic but realistic battle


(Photo courtesy of Universal Pictures)

Believe the hype about the new war movie Lone Survivor. This film is definitely worth a trip to the theater to see on the big screen.

Directed by Peter Berg (Friday Night Lights, Battleship), the film was adapted from Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell’s eponymous memoir recounting Operation Red Wings, a failed 2005 U.S. mission in Afghanistan to kill local Islamist rebel Ahmad Shah.

The film follows Luttrell’s four-man Navy SEAL Team sent into kill local Taliban warlord Shah. Soon after helicopters drop them off near the town he is occupying, the SEAL’s mission is compromised when three unarmed (but Taliban-sympathetic) goat herders wander into their temporary base.

What ensues is a hellacious mountainside firefight between the severely outnumbered SEAL Team and Shah’s small army. As the movie is based off real events, the long firefight scenes illustrate the SEALs’ tremendous heroism and the tragedy of their disadvantage against the insurgents.

Excellent cinematography and vivid sounds pull the audience in and make the SEAL’s battle scenes frighteningly realistic. Only a week after its release, the film was nominated for Oscars in sound editing and sound mixing.

Mark Wahlberg, as Luttrell, gives a powerful and very believable performance, but his presence does not out-shine his costars contributions. Ben Foster, as Luttrell’s battle buddy Matt Axelson, or ‘Axe,’ also has several powerful scenes, and plays an injured soldier very realistically.

The four actors share a strong chemistry, and each seems to understand the depth of their character, and the importance of accurately portraying these men.

Whether or not you pay much attention to America’s military, expect to be taken aback by this film. My friend and I were practically speechless as we left the theater, each mulling over a plethora of thoughts that such a story can leave you with. How did the SEAL Team’s fate turn so bad so quickly? Can you believe that this actually happened in real life? Can you imagine being in that firefight, and living through what was one of the deadliest days in Afghanistan?

When I got home, my dad asked me how the movie was.

“Was it realistic?” he asked. “You see all these war movies that are so explosive and action-based that they are not very believable.”

In fact, the lack of over-the-top action and flashy imagery makes Lone Survivor believable, and most importantly, true to Luttrell’s memoir. Director Peter Berg did not need to rely on special effects to translate a story from paper to the screen. This is not a Battle: Los Angeles fantasy-war film; Berg and his cast try to put their audience back into that fateful 2005 mission in Afghanistan.