Skip to main content
  1. AXS Entertainment
  2. Arts & Entertainment
  3. Movies

Review: ‘Lone Survivor’ is intense and dramatic ode to soldiers and brotherhood

See also

Lone Survivor


Actor-turned-director Peter Berg has a speckled history as a filmmaker, with his fair share of bad (Hancock, Battleship) sprinkled in with good (Friday Night Lights). A few years ago, he made somewhat of a forgotten and underappreciated film set in the Middle East in the midst of the War on Terror called The Kingdom.

More Photos

With The Kingdom, Berg proved himself a more than capable action director. Its success likely led to him landing those previously mentioned, big budget, studio-action films that were not so well-received. With his new film, Berg returns to the kind of smaller-scale action film that better suits his cinematic style.

Lone Survivor tells the real-life story of the failed June 28, 2005 mission “Operation Red Wings,” where four members of U.S. Navy SEAL Team 10 were tasked to capture or kill notorious Taliban leader Ahmad Shahd. When their mission in a remote village is compromised by chance, they must rely on one another and their training to survive.

The film is based on the memoir by actual team member Marcus Luttrell, who is played by Mark Wahlberg in the film. The rest of the four man crew is rounded out by three of the young Hollywood’s most exciting names – Ben Foster, Emile Hirsch, and Taylor Kitsch. Eric Bana, Alexander Ludwig, and Jerry Ferrara round out the cast.

Wahlberg, minus his trademark tough-guy bravado and Boston accent, is solid, likable, and a bit more reserved than usual. Kitsch, as the commanding officer, finds his place in an ensemble much better than as the lead in his previous big budget duds (John Carter, Battleship). Hirsch continues to build on the promise he first showed in Into the Wild and Milk. And, as should be expected, Foster is probably the best of the bunch as he turns in yet another exceptional, unstated performance. In a movie where chemistry and brotherhood are so intrinsic, the actors truly convey it. They like each other, so, in turn, does the audience.

Most war movies are based, at least in part, on a true story, but few take this much pride and effort to truly honor those it is representing. Lone Survivor proves this from the opening credits – a powerful montage of real life Navy SEAL Team training. The film then does a more than adequate job of building the characters during the early exposition scenes before they are thrown into the fight – and what a fight it is. The middle third of the film is basically one long harrowing and brutally realistic gun fight.

The sound design of the film is engrossing and terrific, putting the audience right in the middle of the frantic shouts and gunfire. Berg cleverly uses the gunfire and explosions, as well as the silence in between, for maximum dramatic effect. He does get a little heavy-handed with slow-motion and swelling music, but the story has more than earned that. Ultimately, it is powerfully moving stuff.

Lone Survivor is a relentless barrage of tension and emotion; a symphony of bullets and valor, and overall powerful and fitting tribute to those who have served and/or given their life fighting for our country.

* * * * out of 5 stars

Lone Survivor opens in theaters nationwide on Friday, January 10 and locally at The Theatres at Canal Place, The Grand at Esplanade in Kenner, and all three AMC Palace theatres (Elmwood, Westbank, and Clearview).


If you enjoyed this story, please subscribe and read Chris's other articles:

Follow him on Twitter:!/thechrishenson

And for all the news & inside scoop on film events happening in & around New Orleans - festivals, screenings, casting, trailers, and much more!

Follow us on Twitter!/NOLA_FilmEvents and “LIKE” us on Facebook


Today's top buzz...

  • Jack White
    Jack White has played the longest show of his career, going for over three hours
    Music Buzz
  • Donald Sterling
    Donald Sterling loses big in court, Clippers sale will proceed
    Today's Buzz
  • Steve Nash
    The Los Angeles Lakers will not use stretch provision on Steve Nash
    NBA Buzz
  • Peter Gabriel
    Peter Gabriel revisits classics in new concert film 'Back to Front'
    20 Photos
  • Train
    Train rocks an outdoor show with old favorites and new hits in Tahoe
    15 Photos
  • Rascal Flatts
    Rascal Flatts to perform at Washington Redskins Training Center in Richmond, Va.
    11 Photos

Related Videos:

  • ‘3 Days to Kill’ a silly waste of two hours on DVD
    <div class="video-info" data-id="518174626" data-param-name="playList" data-provider="5min" data-url=""></div>
  • Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
    <iframe width="560" height="315" src="//;VQ=HD720&amp;allowfullscreen=true&amp;autoplay=1"></iframe>
  • 'Mad Max' is awesome
    <iframe width="560" height="315" src="//;allowfullscreen=true&amp;autoplay=1"></iframe>