Opening 20 Mar 2014
The cohesion of gut-wrenching reality with celluloid in Lone Survivor surpasses expectations. Under Intro-titles we see the grueling training that instill military skills, stamina and a deep sense of brotherhood in those men who become an elite US Navy SEAL. Meeting the group prior to their mission – morning races, text messaging loved ones, bantering – infuses humanness. In Afghanistan late 2005 a multi-tier strategy to neutralize Taliban leaders is implemented: First level: SEALs with specific directives. Operations proceed smoothly until fate intrudes, introducing an ethical dilemma intensified by communication problems. There is only one way out – down. Mercifully, principles go both ways.
Based on Petty Officer 1st Class Marcus Luttrell’s account, director Peter Berg and team go all-out to replicate the Operation. Inhospitable terrain in New Mexico, USA resembling Kunar Province in Afghanistan tested Mark Wahlberg (Marcus Luttrell), Taylor Kitsch (Michael Murphy), Emile Hirsch (Danny Dietz) and Ben Foster’s (Matt ‘Axe’ Axelson) rigorous crash-course SEALs training. Afghanistan consultants, military personal and former SEALs on set augment authenticity. Inter-cutting (Colby Parker Jr.) three locales – the four-man team, Forward Base, and Operations Base – while juxtaposing sound design and camerawork (Tobias Schliessler) – handheld, static; close-ups to long shots – immerse viewers further in nerve-racking combat. Alas again – Captain Phillips, Container – intrusive music overrides gripping onscreen action. Hearing the lone survivor say, “I died up there on that mountain…” tangibly reminds us of wartime cruelties, anguish, and chaos inflicted on soldiers and civilians. (Marinell Haegelin)