Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Taylor Kitsch, Emile Hirsch
Director: Peter Berg
Running Time: 121 mins
Lone Survivor is an American film that tells the true story of a team of US Navy Seals who go into deep Afghan territory to hunt down and capture, or kill, Taliban leader Ahmad Shah, in the thick of the war in Afghanistan.
Wow. It may not be one of the greatest war films of all time, but definitely of the 21st Century. This film is not only a thrilling and historically fascinating tale, but is also one of the greatest displays of pure human emotion in battle, centring on the moral dilemmas of war, as well as the simple instinct of survival.
Now, I think that this film is very similar in style and concept to Black Hawk Down, so it’s quite good to compare the two. On the face of things, they are almost identical, excluding the historical period differences, but they carry out certain ideas and themes with varying degrees of success.
While I was disappointed by the lack of pure emotion from Black Hawk Down, Lone Survivor was the exact opposite. Whether it was in the tense build-up phase, or the thrilling battle sequences, you could really feel the emotion shining through in the actors’ performances, with Mark Wahlberg’s ending act particularly hard-hitting.
Also, there’s a significant difference in the successes of the battle sequences in the two films. Black Hawk Down was constant and action-packed, but seemed occasionally overly Hollywood-ified, however this takes its time and shows the nature of war in a very realistic manner.
In fact, that’s the most impressive thing about this film: the gritty realism. With stunning directing and cinematography, including close-up shaky cams, you feel right in the heart of the battle, and due to the film’s incredibly realistic representation of the war, it’s all the more thrilling and engrossing to watch.
The other strength about its realistic representation is that it’s a patient and well thought-out film. Rather than coming in all guns blazing, the first hour of this film is slow and quiet, however extremely tense. To be honest, I didn’t hear one gunshot for the first 60 minutes, but was still enthralled by the story because of the way it was building up.
The slower pace allowed for the ins and outs of the battles to be explained better, while it also gave you time to really get to know the main characters, and share the strong emotions with them as they begin to walk into a horrific battle, which makes it both more emotional and exciting.
However, the most exciting part of this film is the ending. It may be history, but I won’t spoil it, however I will say that it was one of the most harrowing, hard-hitting but hugely exciting and ultimately inspiring 30 minutes I’ve ever spent watching a film, and it finished on a strong, poignant note.
Overall, this gets an 8.2, because it was not only a thrilling and action-packed war film, but a fascinating, emotional and hugely impacting story that was engrossing from start to finish.