Sunday, January 12, 2014

Review: Lone Survivor

Image courtesy of Universal Pictures.
Aside from numerous entries into the torture porn genre, Peter Berg's "Lone Survivor" is likely the most obsessive chronicle of damage to the human body I've seen since "The Passion of the Christ."

As an action movie, it's not half bad. As a war movie or an exploration of the United States' presence in the Middle East, well.

It's clear that Berg has high regard for his subjects, although they are mostly reduced to The Guy Planning to Get Married (Taylor Kitsch), the Voice of Morality and Reason (Mark Wahlberg), the Guy Willing Willing to Throw Morality Out the Window But Later Redeem Himself (Ben Foster) and The Guy Who Freezes In Combat (Emile Hirsch). There's also a sergeant played by Eric Bana.

The picture is very competently made and, not surprisingly, intense. For those unfamiliar with the story, "Lone Survivor" follows four U.S. Navy Seals who are dropped into the mountains of Afghanistan to take out a Taliban leader.

They are faced with a moral quandary when their mission is interrupted by a goat herder and two young boys. Two of the men want to kill the civilians, one of whom is suspiciously Taliban friendly, while the other two want to let them go free.

The latter choice is made and, suddenly, the four men find themselves in a wooded area surrounded by Taliban soldiers. The next hour-and-a-half is filled with carnage - men rolling down hills and slamming into rocks and trees, bullets piercing flesh, glass and mortar being removed from flesh, bones cracking, heads being lopped off and blood splattering from bodies. All of this is handled well, if that's the operative word here, in the sense that it is realistically done and upsetting to the degree for which it aims.

But "Lone Survivor" seems more interested in a time-honored theme in military movies - that is, how soldiers use the safety of the man next to them as a means of inspiration - rather than exploring the specifics of the war in Afghanistan. In other words, this could have been set during World War II, Vietnam or any other war were in not, in fact, based on a true incident and book by Marcus Luttrell (Wahlberg), the titular figure.

"Lone Survivor" is a well-made and often riveting action drama, but it's just not on the level of something like, say, "The Hurt Locker." Not that it needs to be.

No comments:

Post a Comment