Film: “Lone Survivor”; Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Ben Foster, Taylor Kitsch, and Emile Hirsch, Ali Suliman, Alexander Ludwik; Director: Peter Berg; Rating: ***1/2
“Lone Survivor” is a well-constructed ‘gory war porn’ that camouflages an error of judgment on moralistic grounds and glorifies American patriotism.
Based on a true story by Marcus Luttrell and Patrick Robinson, it is an eyewitness account of Operation Red Wings revealing the tale of the US Navy Seals and Army Special Operations soldiers who lost their lives in the mountainous terrain of Afghanistan in 2005.
The film narration starts off in a non-linear fashion with the medical team attending the rescued lone survivor.
What follows, is the chronicle of events that occurred three days earlier at Bagran Air base and Jbad Forward Operation Base in Afghanistan.
The mission of Operation Redwing was to observe a hamlet and neutralise a high-level Al-Qaeda operative, Ahmed Shah who was thought to be an ally of Osama bin Laden.
While hiding in the bushes high up in the mountains, the team; Michael Murphy (Taylor Kitsch), Marcus Luttrell(Mark Wahlberg), Danny Dietz (Emile Hirsch) and Matt Axelson (Ben Foster) encounter three shepherds, whom they soon overpower them.
Then, faced with an awkward ethical issue of killing innocent shepherds, they land up with three options: One, to keep these two young boys and the old man tied up to be killed by the freezing climate, two, cart them along and burdened themselves with the hostages and lastly, let them loose and risk being tracked down by Shah and his forces.
When the onus of the decision falls on the team leader Murphy, he opts for the last option, hoping for the best.
Soon, they are surrounded by a much larger force of Taliban militants ready for war. And the result is obvious.
On the performance front, the actors are used as fodder and rag dolls. They deliver gut wrenching performances and jaw dropping set-action; they tumble painfully and haphazardly down the rocky slopes, clinging desperately to life and their mortifying injuries worsening by the moment, which is unseen in war movies for a long time.
Director Peter Berg has been faithful to his source material. While he opulently chronicles the courage and sacrifice of the American Soldiers, he pays a fleeting tribute to the “Pashtunwali” culture of the Pashtuns and blatantly dismisses of the dead Taliban soldiers.
Technically, the film is intense and persistent. The bullets along with the blood, gore and pain on the visage of actors are precisely captured to the minutest of detail by cinematographer Tobias A. Schliessler. The razor sharp editing by Colby Parker gives the film a smooth and focused flow. And the background score by composer Steve Jablonsky definitely heightens the viewing experience.
Overall though heart-wrenching, brutal and life-affirming, the film due to the glamourisation of the conflict exhibits a “Hollywood feel” to a realistic narration.
(Movie review by Troy Ribeiro)