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Gripping, heroic 'Lone Survivor' a modern warfare classic

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Lone Survivor

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Writer-director Peter Berg pays powerful tribute to our modern military and delivers a gripping war movie classic with "Lone Survivor." Adapted from the book by real life Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell, the film brilliantly depicts the harrowing three day events of the failed mission code named Operation Red Wings. Luttrell (Mark Wahlberg) parachutes into the mountains of Afghanistan along with fellow SEALs Michael Murphy (Taylor Kitsch), Danny Dietz (Emile Hirsch) and Matt Axelson (Ben Foster). What begins with a perilous hike to capture or kill a Taliban leader responsible for the deaths of 20 marines quickly becomes a desperate fight for survival and disastrous rescue mission.

The rocky and forested mountain terrain is as brutal and unforgiving as the enemy the SEALs face. Berg brings us suddenly to the edges of cliffs overlooking spectacular vistas. He then painfully throws us off steep slopes as Luttrell and company bone crunchingly bounce off rocks and slam into trees while bullets continue to assail them. They are vastly outnumbered by an enemy that pops up all around them, disappears and comes back stronger. This is warfare like we've not seen before where every second counts and every false step or failure to move quickly spells disaster.

Yet beyond the combat, this is a very human story that reaffirms the inherent goodness in men and the courage and sacrifice we will show to combat the forces of evil, regardless, as it turns out, of language or country barriers. We could have been better acquainted with the four main characters before they are placed in harm's way. Though we feel for and relate to them in a general sense, it's difficult to keep track of them individually. And one death scene is shown more graphically than necessary with a final bullet to the head being quite unsettling. These two small matters aside, Berg has crafted a nearly flawless film that demands and deserves to be seen by everyone.

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