‘Lone Survivor’ in a class of its own

By Ryan Sacco

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Courtesy Greg Peters/MCT

Courtesy Greg Peters/MCT

“Lone Survivor,” directed by Peter Berg and starring Mark Wahlberg, illustrates the courageous and heartbreaking story of real life Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell. Luttrell’s account and Berg’s direction combine to make this film into a gripping and harrowing depiction of four Navy SEALS and their struggle for survival amidst a Taliban ambush during an ill-fated covert mission to assassinate a high-ranking Taliban member.

“Lone Survivor” is not just another war film to attract action junkies, but a film with something to say about courage, valor, survival, sacrifice and much more. This movie is a difficult one to watch, not only because of the fact that this is a true story, but because of the impressive direction by Berg, the cast’s impressive performance and the shocking on-screen visuals.

Wahlberg’s portrayal of Luttrell is perhaps his best work as a dramatic actor. He does a phenomenal job illustrating the heartbreak, pain, anguish and determination that Luttrell went through during his battle for survival. The entire supporting cast does a fine job here and their chemistry makes you believe that all four men are brothers, as they are in real life. This was a great collective effort by the actors and directors in trying to illustrate what these four SEALS went through both physically and mentally during this doomed mission.

This film is fast-paced and brutal, making for an extremely tense movie going experience. It was one of the most difficult movies I have watched, because of how tragic, merciless and blunt the events were, both on screen and in actuality. The editing in the film creates an incredible amount of tension and apprehension for viewers, reminiscent of the opening scenes of “Saving Private Ryan.” As an audience member you feel as though you are up on the rough terrain in Afghanistan with these SEALS as they struggle to survive against 30 or so trained Taliban fighters. This film brings their mission to life and shows us just how fortunate we are to never have to experience the horrors of war..

RPGs, gun fire and grenades litter the screen during the ensuing gun fights. The impressive training that the Navy SEALS possess is on full display here. Their precision, quickness and skill is incredible and humbling to witness. The violence is gory and hard to stomach at times, but never overly gratuitous. The action and gore are actual depictions of what went on for the four SEALS, making it that much more difficult to watch. You are seeing wounded men suffer horribly, while on the brink of death, all the while still being relentlessly pursued by a number of hostiles.

What propels “Lone Survivor” out of the mold of traditional films of the genre is the moral dilemma at its center. The decision these men have to make is ultimately the cause for their conflict with Taliban soldiers. Regardless of whether or not you agree with their decision, it will make you that much more invested in the battle even as you question your own morality.

This film is shocking and very difficult to watch, but it’s an important film to experience. It tells a story of courage, sacrifice and survival that should not be missed. This is not some action film out to glorify war, nor is it one with a political message. It was merely created to inform the world of these four SEALS’ courage, and to show that their sacrifice is neither forgotten nor taken for granted.

Ryan Sacco can be reached at [email protected]