An elite unit are sent behind enemy lines to bring down one of the Taliban’s leading figures. The mission is soon compromised and forces the soldiers into a desperate situation that can only end in a high-stakes confrontation.
Director Peter Berg finally delivers with this magnificent real-life war story that’s already an early contender for film of the year. Based on true accounts of heroism, Lone Survivor is the most visceral and affecting drama you’ll see all year. Berg avoids all of the trappings that could entangle such a project and instead delivers a film devoid of blind patriotism or glorification. This isn’t a film championing the merits of war. It also accurately conveys every facet of the incident, including just how important Afghan soldiers were in the story and how their bravery, honour and endeavour helped US soldiers during this conflict.
In every frame of Lone Survivor you feel a very genuine sense of responsibility. This permeates through all of the performances in this impressive ensemble. A resurgent Mark Wahlberg is astounding as Marcus Luttrell, the soldier whose book this is based on. Taylor Kitsch, so often (and unfairly) dubbed box-office poison after blockbuster misfires John Carter and Battleship, finally makes amends with a breakout performance. Throw in the perennially unsung trio of Ben Foster, Emile Hirsch and Eric Bana and you have the best war movie in decades. They also perfectly demonstrate the unwavering camaraderie that exists between soldiers.
The structure, characterisation and breathtaking spectacle hook you from the start but it’s the astounding emotional core that leaves the deepest mark. Its uncanny ability to move away from cliché and shift seamlessly between drama, action and human interest makes this an unmissable story. The action is true to life and crucially, doesn’t glamorize war. It also demonstrates the very real and present dangers surrounding these soldiers on the front line. With failing tech, limited back-up and difficult choices to be made at every junction, Lone Survivor shines a telling light onto the complexities of combat and the psychological affect it has on soldiers. This has never been portrayed so accurately in mainstream cinema before.
Lone Survivor is an engrossing and harrowing account of bravery and resolve in the face of insurmountable odds. Peter Berg and the cast should feel very proud of their work here because Lone Survivor easily sits as the best war film we’ve had for well over 20 years. The Hurt Locker may have struck a chord with awards panels a few years ago but it’s Lone Survivor that leaves the most indelible mark on you. This is simply unmissable film-making.