A sign of a good movie is if you find yourself talking about it well after it has ended. If it can inspire a debate, that’s even better. The new Mark Wahlberg movie, “Lone Survivor”, which opens today, January 10 in South Florida, should certainly get people chatting about its message.
The movie is based on a true story about a small group of Navy SEALs who go on a special mission in Afghanistan to take out a Taliban leader. Before they get to complete it, the mission gets compromised when they capture a small family of goat herders that share a village with the enemy. Not wanting to become murderers, they let the family go, only to find the Taliban hot on their trail.
The obvious debate “Lone Survivor” brings up is did the SEALs make the right decision? The easy answer is “no” given the results of that decision. The SEALs had three options before them, let them go and risk having the Taliban quickly hunt them down, leave them tied up, giving the SEALs plenty of time to put some distance between them and the Taliban, but the family could die from that decision, and finally eliminate the problem by murdering the family. To continue the debate along, option B would make the most sense. It’s understandable why they did not want to assassinate the family and it is commendable too. However, the result of just letting them go appeared obvious. If you leave them tied up is it not debatable that members of the village would go looking for them? Let the debate rage on.
As far as being a war movie, “Lone Survivor” is one of the more tense and realistic ones to come along in a long while. At times it is almost painful to watch and the movie is not for the faint of heart. Director Peter Berg made some risky decision in telling this story and they pay off. One is showing the SEALs point-of-view of what they see when they are in a gun fight. They see everything through their scopes and those are the kill shots we see. It’s powerful, but pretty scary too. In some war movies we see our heroes turns around and shoot their machine guns while the bad guys all fall down while our guys don’t end up with even a scratch. Not to spoil anything, but that is not how things are portrayed in this movie.
The one drawback to “Lone Survivor” is the amount of time the audience has to wait around for things to get moving. It is understandable that the filmmakers want the audience to get to know the characters so they care about them and to show how these soldiers live by a certain credo and see one another as brothers. Still, there is a fine line about making that point and driving it into the ground.
A movie like “Lone Survivor” is not for everyone, but those who do see it will likely appreciate what they see. The discussions that come out of this movie could be endless. Do you murder an innocent family in cold blood and soon find yourself the part of a news story reporting how Navy SEALs are killing innocent people or do the opposite where you become the victims and your story ends up being made into a movie? Neither option is very appealing.