on 31 December 2013
Remarkable representation of an all out firefight between a small contingent of US Navy Seals & a fairly large group of Taliban forces in Afghanistan.
The Seals are sent in, covertly, to capture, or kill, Taliban leader Ahmad Shahd. They succeed in finding Shahd and his group of Taliban fighters but something goes very wrong and they are left to fend for themselves against insurmountable odds.
Outgunned and with communications down they come under heavy fire from their opponents and the film tells the gripping, and true, story of the battle that ensues.
This film is extremely well put together and the photography is excellent, with all the actors playing their parts very believably. The director uses some 'poetic license' towards the end of the film but throughout the viewer is engaged in an almost 'Apocalypse Now' experience.
on 22 February 2014
Incredibly powerful film. Shows the combined strength of those who defend our counties, and without getting all overly patriotic about it, this film does make you think a lot about those who protect us.
As a side note, i watched an extended feature of this on Youtube. Mark Wahlberg met the parents of the real life character he was playing and he promised them that he would play the part as true to real life as he could. Needless to say the acting was incredibly good, everything felt so real. Not only Mark Wahlberg but the other actors were excellent too.
The storyline itself is based on true events, we all know what this means. It was sometimes hard to believe the scenes depicted could ring true to real life but I suppose we will never know the extend of what really happened. It had exceptional cinematography, and it is a film at the end of the day. I loved it.
There was a dedicated ending to the fallen soldiers complete with their real life pictures. I really liked this, very respectful.
on 2 January 2015
Generally I am of the opinion that war films can tend to be poor but anti-war films excellent. The more gung-go a film, the less appealing I find it and the more politically motivated a script, the more credible the film is. This is particularly true with more left-leaning films like "Days of glory" , a French film about Algerian soldiers fighting to help liberate France in WW2.
"Lone Survivor" was recommended to me. I had read the favourable reviews but was a bit suspicious that this film would laud the American military establishment as well as put a positive spin on the travesty of Afghanistan. Instead, this film concerns an operation which goes wring for the simplest and most moral of reasons and whilst the first twenty minutes do not really allow for much character development, once in the combat zone the film goes up several notches and doesn't stop. Rather than being gung-ho, here is a film for once that shows that the American military machine is fallible , that their technology is subject to glitches and that even rescue missions might not conclude as anticipated. Effectively, this film is about a chase through the wilderness of a four man team by the Taliban. It is frightening and exciting. Based on a rear incident, the film is better for the fact that most of the actors were unknown to me so that you don't really get the impression of watching actors going through the motions. I think the film can also be praised for the fact that it shows that the American military organisation does have it's failings and that the need to prioritize with the provision of air cover can have catastrophic results.
I wouldn't say that this film has the clout of "Saving Private Ryan" or the shear wallop of "Black hawk down" but it is extremely gripping and whilst the film does conclude with a moral message, it is better at dealing with the bravery and stamina of soldiers who rose to a remarkable challenge in confronting a ruthless enemy when the odds were stacked very highly against them. This film could have been totally different but somewhere along the line the brakes were put on the excesses and, if this film doesn't quite evoke an anti-war message, it at least it illustrates the bravery of the men involved and illustrates the demands of fighting the Taliban. This is a really gripping piece of cinema and a film I would recommend.
on 22 April 2014
Saw this at the flix & loved it. It's your classic special ops botch up / heroic-exploits movie, and a true story.
Action packed & a tribute to those involved in the real-life op involving a Seal Team
sent in to observe a terrorist/warlord in Afghanistan, that goes belly-up.
A must-see for fans of the genre who like it fast, furious, & true
on 16 March 2014
I'll begin by saying I rate this film as right up with with the very best of grim, realistic modern war movies like Black Hawk Down or The Hurt Locker.
Pretty much every other positive review talks about the really exciting action sequences, great performances and fab cinematography. All this is true. If like me, you are a fan of Friday Night Lights, you'll find a lot of similarities, as the music is by Explosions In The Sky (as FNL) and Taylor Kitsch and Peter Berg are re-teaming from FNL. The reason I bring a series about a High School Football team into it is that it was a series that felt real - as does this and had much greater depth than you might have expected - as does this.
I think Berg as a writer does a very good job honouring the SEALs but also really does a good job or portraying ordinary Afghans positively - or certainly even handedly. At the end there is some on screen text explaining Afghan guest customs, but I think too, you can read between the lines of the film and see that fundamentally the ordinary Afghan villagers are no friends of the Taliban and are as sick of them and sickened by them as we might be.
It IS a bit gung ho at times, and you do wonder about some of the tactical decisions that were made, but that doesn't and shouldn't detract from what is an exciting and very unusual story, that is tremendously well acted, directed and shot.
on 25 January 2015
REVIEWED VERSION: 2013 Universal Studios US Blu-Ray
(obtained at Wal-Mart, extras may vary from regular retail version)
Director: Peter Berg
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Taylor Kitsch, Emile Hirsch, Ben Foster, Eric Bana, Alexander Ludwig
Production: US 2013
Marcus Luttrell (Mark Wahlberg) and his team of Navy SEALs are sent on a mission in Afghanistan, Operation "Red Wings", to capture or kill taliban leader and war criminal Ahmad Shah.
When they are detected by a group of goat herders (no pun intended), the mission is jeopardized and Luttrell must make a difficult decision: uphold the code of conduct and risk his own life and the lives of his team members or become a war criminal himself.
His decision has consequences...
THE PROS & CONS
LONE SURVIVOR is based on Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell's nonfiction book of the same name.
It was mostly overlooked at the Academy Awards, being nominated only for two minor catagories, Best Sound Editing and Best Sound Mixing, winning neither.
It fared better at the box office, grossing a total of $149.3 million on a budget of $40 million.
The film opens with an montage of the tough training the Navy SEALs undergo. The stars of the film underwent some training themselves to prepare for their physically demanding roles.
Several veterans have actually stated how realistic this movie is, calling at as probably the most realistic war movie ever made, also in regards to the depiction of wounds.
What LONE SURVIVOR also does is show that the average common Afghan civilians are also being brutalized and killed by the taliban terrorists and are no friends of them - with a few exceptions.
The film was shot entirely in New Mexico, U.S.A., and the landscape is just mindblowingly fantastic. Overall the cinematography by Tobias Schliessler is just wonderful, looking even greater in high definition.
Peter Berg did a fantastic directing job, delivering by far his best film here. I like the way that the movie starts, building up the story and the characters - real characters, not the stereotypical GI Joes - instead of dumping them in the Hindu Kush region in the first 2 minutes.
The actors did a fantastic job as well, preparing for the role and then believably portraying their characters. I am not a fan of Mark Wahlberg at all, but he definitely nailed the role of Luttrell, delivering the best performance of his career.
LONE SURVIVOR is one of the best war movies ever made, ranking equally with BLACK HAWK DOWN, and surpassing by far PLATOON and SAVING PRIVATE RYAN, not only from a moral point of view, only to be surpassed by AMERICAN SNIPER.
It is that difficult moral decision and knowing and accepting the consequences that makes this film so superior. I know for sure, I would have chosen a very different path if I were in his shoes.
It's men like Marcus Luttrell and Chris Kyle that should be celebrated as super heroes, not dressed up Marvel clowns.
Highly recommended, definitely one of the best films of 2013.
ON A SIDE NOTE
- the real life fire fight Marcus Luttrell and his company were engaged in with the Taliban lasted five days instead of the three days depicted in the film
- actual military veterans were used in the film as well, including two cameos of the real Marcus Luttrell
- stars Taylor Kitsch and Mark Wahlberg and director Berg worked at a discount for the mandatory Directors Guild minimum salary of $17,000 a week
- Mark Wahlberg has said in many interviews that Lone Survivor is the movie he is most proud of
- the tumbling and falling scenes were filmed on location without CGI enhancement
Feature running time: 121:16 mins. (uncut)
MPAA Rating: R (strong bloody war violence and pervasive language)
BBFC Rating: 15 (strong bloody violence and strong language)
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Audio: English DTS-HD MA 5.1, Spanish DTS 5.1, DVS (Descriptive Video Service)
Subtitles: English HoH, Spanish
Extras: Will of the Warrior (28:05), Bringing the Story to Light (4:44), Recreating the Firefight (10:27), Learning the Basics (6:02), The Fallen Heroes of Operation Red Wings (4:00) (3:40) (3:48), The Pashtun Code of Life (4:07), Previews (Trailers to other releases), DVD on seperate Disc, Digital HD copy, Blu-Ray online features.
Region: Region Free
Picture quality: 5/5
Audio quality: 5/5
This Blu-Ray presents LONE SURVIVOR in state of the art picture and audio quality. It looks magnificent as if you could jump right into the picture. The smallest details and textures are brilliantly captured as are the facial details which seem incredibly lifelike. The (English) DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 lossless soundtrack is just as impressive, especially during the action scenes.
Less impressive is the amount of extras, roughly one hour of featurettes and interviews, but no commentary. We just expect more from a film in this day and age.
on 17 December 2014
Excellent movie. Other reviews have covered the story, so I'll not do that. I did want to go into some of the more "unbelievable" moments in the movie. Spoilers ahoy!
Disclaimer - I have not read the book but I appreciate that it differs in some respects from the movie.
First - Jumping down cliff sides several times, but still fighting.
I think the film's cinematography doesn't help it here - the scenes with the SEALs crashing onto rocks and trees is very well done, conveying the tremendous kinetic energy imparted into those falls. You feel each crunch and jolt with the team and it's hard to believe that they could still move after that. I suspect that some artistic licence has gone into the movie with regards to heights etc. HOWEVER - don't underestimate the effect of adrenaline - which must've been flowing like crazy, enabling them to carry on, when their bodies should've quit.
Second - Multiple gunshot wounds.
See the effects of adrenaline outlined above. In Mark Bowden's excellent "Black Hawk Down," it states that Rangers in Mogadishu were repeatedly shot and some didn't even feel it until the adrenaline wore off. Also, the AK-47 fires a 7.62mm short round, which is a powerful cartridge - too powerful in some respects, making it easy to punch through the body without causing a fatal wound. By contrast, the 5.56mm NATO round used in the SEAL's Colt M-203/M16 combos have a tumbling effect when the bullet hits the body, causing massive internal trauma. They are more effective rounds, so the SEALs' fire was more effective. It is possible that Ax's head wound was not a direct hit, but a ricochet. Alternatively, the round simply didn't penetrate due to deflection or inadequate storage of rounds. Go to any ER room and they'll tell you that headshots are not certain death.
Third - Endless supply of bullets.
If you note - when the Talis turn up, the SEALs do not loose off dozens of rounds at any one target, they are actually firing single shots. This is standard fire discipline and I liked that the movie showed that authenticity. By comparison, the Talis were firing long bursts, often without sighting properly. This is common with enemy lacking formal training. The SEALs probably carried at least a couple of hundred rounds each. That lasts a long time when you're not blatting away indiscriminately.
Fourth - Jingoism
The US Navy SEALs are the cream of the US special forces. They are approximately equivalent to the UK's SBS. I didn't see flag-waving for 'Murica as much as I saw esprit d'corps in an elite fighting unit. The training and selection process is absolutely brutal and only the best finish the course. That spirit is instilled in the fighting men and it is part of their creed and ethos. I personally can't stand the "gung-ho 'Murica" message contained within a lot of war movies and I really thought that blind jingoism was in short supply here.
Anyway, I've written a book, so TL:DR - Highly recommended.
on 17 June 2014
I'm not going to say much about the story, it's already been said here ad infinitum.
One point though, just a small one; the four man team of the film was not sent in to kill or capture the bad guy themselves. Their job was to confirm, or otherwise, that the target was present then the main force were to arrive to finish the job.
Nearly everything from the book is here, and a few scenes have been changed a little. The needs of fitting a story into a movie dictates such things. The night that Luttrell spends alone is omitted, along with the shootings of that night. The time he spends being sheltered outside of the village by the villagers is missing too. Also, his face-to-face with the target is changed completely for the film, along with a few other minor points. This does not detract from the dramatic events at all, though. The action is very tense, and quite accurate to tactics employed in real life. The stunts are just incredible, and almost knock the wind out of you. Oof!
On BluRay the extras amount to one hour and ten minutes. While this may not sound much nowadays, all the extras are well worth watching and there seems to have been no fleshing out the minutes just to make it more attractive to buyers. There is even an explanation of the code of Pashtunwalai (more precisely Lokhay Warkawal), which is a good touch sadly lacking in other films of this genre.
In summary, beautifully filmed and executed, even though I got so involved watching it, the two hours was up in no time at all. I only give it 4/5 as another half hour would easily have been possible with the events described above.
on 25 April 2014
The film may be called Lone Survivor, however, it has not fallen victim to being a film that just idolises Mark Wahlberg. All four of the SEALs are portrayed as being tough, determined and heroic in their own right. This in turn brings me on to the most striking element that the film has to offer, the SEALs camaraderie. Never before have I seen a film that illustrates how a group of men are so willing to give up their lives for each other. They put aside typical patriotic ideals (that are seen too often films of this genre), and focus more on their unbreakable friendship. To cynics of the military, this element restores faith in soldiers' humanity; they are a little bit more than just "killing machines", they are also a band of brothers.
As with any true life movie the audience is going to have to decide whats almost fact and what is there for dramatic impact or entertainment.
Lone survivor is not entertainment, not in a bad way but it's a story told straight forward of a bad situation happening to a bunch of Navy Seals on mission being shot at by Taliban, not exactly Disney.
It however is engrossing and plays (albeit ignoring the slow motion camera shots) quite realistic.
Sadly unlike other films of this failed mission genre, Black Hawk Down springs to mind, the characters are not well drawn and so not a lot of emotion can be drawn to them, in fact you probably get to know thek better in the end tribute scene that usesreal life photos of the men than in the runtime of the movie.
Director Peter Berg is very much on The Kingdom territory here with beautiful sun glistening shots and as mentioned slow motion photography.
The action is typically bombastic, and the decent or fall over a cliff as the men try to escape is brutally filmed and the films action highlight.
A good film but not quite engaging enough to be great, it does however tell a sad story of war andbavoids for most parts being over macho.
Worth a watch if you like films like Behind Enemy Lines or Tears of the sun or the vastly superior Black Hawk Down.