I suppose I’m not dishing out juicy spoilers, considering the title alone gives it all away. You know what’s going to happen in the end, but nothing can prepare you for when you actually reach the end. Just to put it out there, this movie wrecked me.
Marcus Luttrell (Mark Wahlberg) and his team of four set out to capture or kill a notorious Taliban leader. In a cruel display of ‘reality bites’, things don’t go as planned and we’re left with our lone survivor. Again, disclaimer, I’m not spoiling the movie; the title spoiled it for you. Lone Survivor is, ultimately, a war movie. For those of you who watched Saving Private Ryan and found it hard to keep your popcorn down, this movie probably isn’t for you.
The movie starts off ridiculously slow. The first hour or so showed our heroes training, butting heads and whatever else soldiers do. My favourite part of all this character-audience rapport building was the grainy montage at the beginning, where actual footage of Navy SEALs in action was used. I thought it was very tasteful. Unfortunately, it set the stage for genuine heartbreak later on. These people are just so passionate and driven. They deserve good things, you know?
No, because apparently good things don’t happen to good people.
Director Peter Berg looked at the testosterone chum fest in the first half of the movie, and thought, “Hey, why don’t we let the audience take a nosedive into modern warfare with minimal preparation, because we spent so much time letting them get to know and love the characters!” This cruel, unadulterated sadism on Berg’s part plops Luttrell and his team in enemy territory where communication goes dead. Of course, things only go downhill from this point.
Now, if you’re like me and get very attached to characters in a short span of time, you’re not going to like this very much. The next hour is non-stop action. The team is grossly outnumbered by the Taliban, resulting in a painfully long bloodbath. Lone Survivor shows no mercy in this brutal war scene. The brilliant cinematography fully immerses the audience in this ruthless battle, and I don’t mean it in the shaky-cam Hunger Games way. I mean it in The Hurt Locker sort of way. The audience doesn’t have a breather during this entire sequence. You can actually smell the adrenaline in the theatre and hear everyone’s rapid heartbeat as these forty minutes play out on the screen. There’s nothing more magical than when you experience a movie alongside the characters, especially characters Peter Berg cruelly made us love, only to have them be ripped apart before our very eyes.
I have to give a special mention to the make-up department for this movie. The gashes, wounds, bullet holes and burns looked so realistic. Coupled with Wahlberg, Taylor Kitsch, Emile Hirsch and Ben Fosters’ tremendous acting, I couldn’t bear to keep both eyes open. This movie wasn’t about how the Taliban ruined this group of four men. This movie was about the relationship between them. I may never understand or experience such a bond with a group of people, but these four actors played roles so human that I was left in tears. Rarely ever does a movie hit so hard, but Lone Survivor sucker punches its viewers in their very core.
It’s painful, it’s brutal, it’s cruel, but it’s real.
We were all rooting for the band of brothers through the movie, even though we knew full well that we would have our hearts broken. Mine was. It really, really was. I will never forgive Peter Berg for doing this to us. Hats off to Marcus Luttrell for allowing his story to be made into this gut-wrenching movie, and to all the men and women who put their lives on the line for their nation. A tightly woven masterpiece in the telling of a harrowing true story, Lone Survivor is a must-watch.
Lone Survivor is out in theatres on February 13.