Typically, films released during the first few months of a new year aren't ones to get terribly excited about; however, "Lone Survivor" breaks all of those stereotypes. The film was released in a few select markets at the end of December which made it just eligible for The Oscars; it went wide release on Friday, Jan. 10. This film is based upon the New York Times bestseller by former Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell who was the sole survivor of a covert mission by Seal Team 10. The screening I was in attendance for had Luttrell and Taya Kyle, who is the widow of America's deadliest sniper Chris Kyle, also in attendance and they graciously shared some of their thoughts after the screening.
At the time of publication of this review on Jan. 12, the total number of U.S. military fatalities for 2014 are: 5
The film stars Mark Wahlberg as Luttrell and director Peter Berg did an excellent job with methodically building up the pace of the story. Initially, the viewer is provided with glimpses of the men before they embark on their next mission such as wedding plans and instant message chats. Once the action shifts to the mission itself, Operation Red Wings, there are no forced dramatics nor unrealistic action hero stunts but there are plenty of tight shots capturing the gritty authenticity.
Wahlberg is a solid actor and one of his best performances was along side a talking stuffed bear named "Ted"; however, on "Lone Survivor" he totally outdid himself. Everything from Wahlberg's facial reactions to hard breathing to the pitch of his voice really conveys the impression of a man truly fighting, not just for his country, but for his very life.
Once the action begins, it simply never lets up and provides viewers with about as a realistic view of the brotherhood that is experienced by our military heroes as is possible on film. The horrors of war by this small team is not for the faint of heart; it's not gory, but it is authentic.
Taylor Kitsch's portrayal of Michael (Mike) P. Murphy is electric and dynamic; he's officially left his role of Tim Riggins on "Friday Night Lights" behind. Ben Foster, in the role of Matthew (Axe) Axelson, gives a haunting performance as he battles with every ounce of his being.
Taya Kyle shared that she has had the opportunity to view the film two times previously and was so impressed by the stuntmen. In one scene when the team is trying to get away from their attackers, they literally fling themselves down the side of a mountain several hundred feet. One of the stuntmen hit a boulder and came to an immediate stop on his back and Kyle explained that as the paramedics were removing the stuntman, even though he had literally broken every single rib in his body, he said he would do it again out of simple respect for these men.
When seeing what the men go through in an effort to first fulfill their mission and then to save their lives, the viewer is left with the realization that the U.S. government, at the very least, deserves to give these men and women every single advantage they need to fulfill their missions quickly and efficiently with the least loss of life.
The film is gut wrenching and deserves to be seen by everyone to understand the type of situations our brave men and women are finding themselves in and how they deserve, and are due, every ounce of respect we civilians can give them.