HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Lone Survivor
HTS Overall Score:91
I remember seeing the trailers for “Lone Survivor” in theaters and not being sure whether to be excited or leery of the upcoming film. I come from a military family so, being that “Lone Survivor” is based off of the true tale of Seal Team Ten’s slaughter in Afghanistan made me rather nervous. Hollywood isn’t prone to perfectly translating true life events onto the big screen. Usually we get a big dumb action movie that resembles very little of reality or it tries to bludgeon you over the head with a political message. After watching the film tonight I have to say that it does a very admirable job of keeping to the facts for a majority of the film and focuses on the trials and tribulations of the troops rather than a political message. I also read a lot of reviews that said this was just like “Act of Valor”, a “hoorah” film for the military and meant to make us feel good for our soldiers above reality. With the whole confrontation during the trailer where Mark Wahlberg and Ben Foster’s characters face off over whether to shoot the goat herders or let them go, I was worried that they were going to shoehorn in a political message about “we can’t kill these people, we’re better than that” instead of the actual events. Thankfully that was toned down a lot more than I was expecting and came very close to the real reason their op was compromised.
“Lone Survivor” is the tale of Seal Team Ten, operating under a mission called “Operation Red Wings”, which sent them into enemy territory in June of 2005 to take down a famed Taliban leader named Ahmed Shah (Yousuf Azami). Four SEALS, Marcus Luttrell (Mark Wahlberg), Michael Murphy (Taylor Kitsch), Danny Dietz (Emile Hirsch) and Matt Axelson (Ben Foster), penetrate enemy lines and sneak up to Ahmed Shah’s mountain base to try and take him out. The problem starts when they assess the situation and realize that there’s not just ten men there like they were led to believe. There’s over 100 armed men. To make matters worse they are further compromised when a goat herder and his son’s discover them in the mountains. Now they’re left with 3 choices. 1) Let the goat herders go and make a run for it. 2) Tie up the goat herders and make a run for it, which would effectively kill the goat herders. Or 3) Terminate the subjects and finish the mission. With their sat phones down and their com gear inoperable in the mountains they have to make a decision and go with it. Luttrell makes the final call and they let the goat herders go, knowing that they’re in for a trip home from hell.
Making it only a short distance the men are pinned down in a bed of rocks, without the benefit of the high ground and a cliff to their backs. There we get the meaning of the title as they are systematically slaughtered (albeit after single handedly taking on almost 100 armed Taliban) except for Marcus Luttrell. With the Taliban hot on his tail, Marcus is able to stumble into a band of peaceful villagers who agree to take in the wounded soldier. Their 2000 year old code of honor requires them to protect their guests and the men take up arms against the Taliban forces following them long enough for the cavalry to come in.
The movie was a great watch, and almost a 5/5 movie. My only problems that I had come from my knowledge of Luttrell’s book and the inconsistencies that Hollywood inserted. The mild one that I had was in the decision to kill the goat herders or move on. Here they tried to insert that Marcus and Michael Murphy had a moral quandary over what to do and that Ben Foster’s character along with Emile Hirsch wanted to kill the goat herders and move on. The fact of the matter was that they all knew what they should have done. There was no moral quandary. They knew they should have killed the goat herder and finished the mission. The only problem was the rule of engagement that cripple our military today would allow them to complete their mission with the least loss of life on their side. So they had to make the worse decision and pray that they made it out. As you can see, that decision didn’t work out so well and just saddened me the entire time. Watching a fighting force of no equal, forced to make decision that will doom them because of bureaucratic restrictions that keep our men in more harm’s way than they should be in. This kind of darkened the mood for me as all I could see was what could have been. Luttrell himself and other SEALS have all said the same thing. Had they gone into that village and holed up they could have withstood the entire force of men until backup got there. As it was they were forced to make a run for it and the sheer tragedy of that situation causes me much grief.
The final battle with the young boy helping out Luttrell was certainly fabricated, but it didn’t take away from the action or the main plot line enough to really warranty a black mark. Overall the film was incredibly well done showing the actual camaraderie and brotherhood that is forged in those tough circumstances between those brave men. Kitsch and Hirsch aren’t usually known for great acting, but they did an amazing job here and Wahlberg did a great job, albeit with his normal “flair”. Ben Foster was truly great though. His role was epically brilliant and it brought a tear to my eye whenever he spoke. He sunk into the role with such ease and grace that you couldn’t see him as he usually is, but as the battle hardened SEAL standing back to back in an impossible situation. There was an incredibly eye for detail for the weapons used, the actual realistic sound of a suppressed rifle and even the death rattle that comes from a punctured lung. The film is a bit flawed in places, as it takes a few minutes to get off the ground, but when they come under fire the film takes off and doesn’t let up until the very end of the movie. Highly recommended
Rated R for strong bloody war violence and pervasive language
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=19650[/img]“Lone Survivor’s” 2.40:1 AVC transfer is just superb and barely shy of perfection. The film opens up with real life footage of Navy Seal training, which is naturally of lower video quality, but the film soon opens up to the crystal clear digital filming that is throughout the rest of the movie. The film displays a very accurate color profile, ranging from the dusky browns and burnt sand textures of the Afghani base to the green of the pines and blues of the open sky during the mountain scenes. Detail is simply phenomenal with lots of extreme close up shots of our heroes and all of the fibers and folds of their military uniforms. The long shots are breathtaking as we see some fantastic Arial footage of the Afghani Mountains that dazzles and leaves you in awe. Skin tones and contrasts are very natural and well within norms with some very beautiful looking blacks. No crush, no washed out grey colors, just deep, inky darkness with lots of shadow detail. The only thing that kept me from rating this a perfect 5/5 is the occasional soft scene. Nothing too wild, but it happened a few times on the mountaintop to my noticing.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=19658[/img]Wow. Just WOOOOOOOOOOOW! That’s all I can really say. “Lone Survivor” sports an absolutely incredible 5.1 DTS-HD MA track that literally punches you in the face and keep on moving. Vicious LFE and power that just presses you into the seat as rocket propelled grenades explode and 50 caliber machine gun rounds ripe through foliage, muscle and bone. What makes this track even more special is that fact that it’s not just raw brutal power with the LFE and surrounds. It’s ACCURATE as all get out as bullets wiz around from every direction, you can even hear individual tree branches cracking and impacted by AK-47 rounds. Every bone crunching fall from that mount top, every rock smashing into another the bullets, the screams, all of it surrounds the listener in an incredibly immersive environment where you feel like you’re right there with the rest of those SEALS. Dialogue couldn’t be better, locked into that front channel and evenly balanced with a nice dynamic range. I honestly have no complaint with this track and it alone would make me want to watch this movie again, even if it has been a bad movie just because of the sonic experience. Bravo Universal, bravo.
• Bringing the Story to Light
• The Fallen Heroes of Operation Red Wings
• Will of the Warrior
• Recreating the Firefight
• Learning the Basics
• The Pashtun Code of Life
For those of you familiar with Marcus Luttrell’s book, you might have a few problems with some embellishments, but overall the movie does a very good job of paying honorary tribute to those dead (and one living) heroes. Never going too far off into the unrealistic extreme, but sticking pretty closely to the actual events and portraying these men as the indomitable fighting force known as the Navy SEALS. With stunning video, audio and even a decent set of extras, this is a must watch and even a great own for those of you who love watching combat movies. Highly recommended.
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Ben Foster, Eric Bana
Directed by: Peter Berg
Written by: Peter Berg (Screenplay0 Marcus Luttrell (book)
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1, English 2.0 and Spanish DTS 5.1
Studio: Universal Studos
Runtime: 121 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: June 3rd, 2014
Buy Lone Survivor Blu-ray on Amazon
Recommendation: Highly Recommended
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