With a title like “Lone Survivor,” clearly this war drama will not end well. And since it’s a documented case of 19 Navy Seals on a mission to take out isolated, high-level hard target Ahmad Shahd in Afghanistan in June 2005 narrated by the last man standing, Marcus Luttrell, the blood, sweat and tears will be mixed with a minimum of triumph.
Director Peter Berg (“Friday Night Lights”), working from his own script adapted from the New York Times Bestseller, proceeds to dig in deep to the Navy SEALS psyche and to understand who these individuals are, rescuing them from reductive statistics. At the same time, he embeds the audience so deeply in the men’s perspective on the doomed “Operation Red Wings” mission, that the experience is visceral and intensely disturbing.
The result is a contemporary “Platoon,” a band-of-brothers war story. Even for someone like me that isn’t a natural or easy fan of that genre, I recognize that one chief pleasure is the opportunity it provides for a group of actors to peel back pretense and reveal their characters at their most frightened, challenged and, even, transcendent. Real men cry on the battlefield, particularly when it’s a stony outcropping in Afghanistan and a once buff body has become a rag doll chewed by a vicious pit bull. [Read more…]