The new Lone Survivor is a great example of the kind of work Hollywood is capable of when it puts its mind to it.
Up front, this is a continuation of a new trend that was started a few years ago by the Oscar winning The Hurt Locker, and kept alive last year with Oscar nominated Zero Dark Thirty. Telling a modern war story, in terms that are honest, straight forward and in a way that brings all the emotions to the surface for the viewer. In short, the star of the movie, is...the movie. This is in that class. Should be noted, it's not made by the same people, but certainly inspired by their style of storytelling.
This is based on a true story of a Navy Seal mission a few years ago in Afghanistan where a team of four Seals find themselves outnumbered about 100-1, and their fight to stay alive. The mission to kill a senior Taliban commander goes wrong when the team is accidentally discovered by small group of goat farmers. So what do they Seals do? Kill these innocent? Or release them and know that the battle of their lives is more than likely inevitable.
This also shows, and brings home the powerful points that the network news here at home does not. These dedicated fighting teams are not simply fighting the enemy, that you sometimes can identify. But they are also battling the enormously difficult terrain and geography that is Afghanistan. and many times they end up battling themselves as well. Sometimes those things are every bit as challenging as the actual enemy. This puts you right in the middle of these men's lives and takes you with them on their mission. This is not some rah-rah, borderline recruitment movie. This is really honest, tough stuff.
Yes, this is violent. Very violent, but to this movies extreme credit it's not more violent than it has to be authentic. There certainly are long gun fight and hand to hand battle scenes that include graphic violence, but this is not video game stuff. And this is certainly not glorified over the top Rambo stuff either. This is an honest account of what happened on that mountain years ago. Many times I use the phrase "this is not for everyone." And most times is apt. But Lone Survivor is movie that I think every adult should see. Yes, it may take you out of your movie comfort zone, but it's important to see what really happens in modern war. In that sense it is reminiscent of Saving Private Ryan. But not as graphic. I think many traveled out of their comfort zones to see that.
This move makes all those cartoonish fake war movies look even more ridiculous that normal. It even makes the superhero flicks look stupid, when you realize that real heroes wear a uniform, walk on two legs, have human frailties and don't fly or wear a suit of iron that flies. Lone Survivor is amazingly emotive, and supremely powerful, as it goes well beyond the battle scenes and into the hearts of those on screen and those in the audience.
At times this is hard to watch, and yes makes you mad, and yes makes you feel helpless. But the operative word here is "feel". There is no question that this is a tactile movie that touches you and makes you want to touch it back. This is an important movie, and another step forward in accurate tale telling of America's longest war. Yes, this will be spoken in The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty breath and it is well deserved. Stretch your boundaries a bit. If this kind of movie makes you squirm, it's important to know not just what these men do, but who they are.
Lone Survivor. More than just really good, really important. A must see.
Click here and read my review of this week's Her!