Monkey Movie Review – Lone Survivor (2013)

Based on a 2013 book by Marcus Luttrell, this movie details the failed attempt by US Navy Seals to find and kill a Taliban leader in Afghanistan (Ahmad Shah).  It stars Marky Mark (Wahlberg), Emile Hirsch, Ben Forster, Taylor Kitsch and Eric Bana.

– No Spoilers – 

It’s interesting how war movies have changed over the last 50 years.  Used to be it was brave Americans up against dispacable Nazis (or North Vietnamese) who are clearly and unequivocally bad.  During battle, people who are hit by enemy fire would raise one arm, yell out and grab their belly and fall to the ground.  Men were men, rarely were women depicted in battle and we all left the theater proud.   Ah, good times.  Not so much anymore.  Movies have become way more realistic, not just for the realism in the body injuries sustained by bullets to the head, back, neck but also damage to soft tissue when signifant trauma is sustaned.  It makes movies like this difficult to watch.  And while they suggest the patriotism of US troops (see Sniper) others also struggle with the horror of war and the difficult decisions that have to be made as a soldier (also see Sniper).  I should see Sniper, I guess at some point.  War movies atttempt to paint real pictures of these men and women who serve so that we may be safe.

I stumbled across this movie one evening on HBO and put it on in the background while I was doing other things. It quickly caught my attention and soon enough I was sitting and watching intently.  As mentioned, this movie is violent.  And given the name, you probably already know the outcome.  But much like Titanic, despite knowing the eventual outcome, it had me stressed and on the edge of my seat, er, sofa, repeatedly.  The outcome does not mean that a large number of unexpected things do not occur.  Or, without the double negative, a large number of unexpected things DO occur.

Well acted, with a strong message, and some heartbreaking scenes, including during the credits, it is a sleeper of a movie that will leave you uncomfortable and moved.  Characterizations are realistic; the heroes don’t wear black or white, and often you really don’t know how things are going to pan out.

Shot in Mexico, the movie is gritty and realistic.  Mark Wahlberg and his supporting cast are tremendous, using just eye contact, pauses and subtle expressions to convey the turmoil they are feeling during both the landing and the exit.  The Afghans are varied, with men, women and children depicted in a variety of seemingly accurate behavior and dress.

No question that SEALS are brave brave men and women that put their lives on the line every day in these war areas.  But films like Lone Survivor bring home the idea that these guys are not supermen, but real people that have families and fears, and as a result make you really sad at the waste of life that war brings (even when necessary).

Monkey gives this movie 4 out of 5 bananas and says check it out!


3 thoughts on “Monkey Movie Review – Lone Survivor (2013)

  1. Very hard to watch at times. But that’s what happens when you have an effective war movie. Regardless of the stance the movie takes on the war itself. Nice review.


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