Lone Survivor 2013 Movie Scene Mark Wahlberg as Marcus Luttrell holding a gun about to go into the fight

Lone Survivor [2013]

After more than ten years, I can confidently say that Lone Survivor is one of the best war movies ever made. Based on an incredible true story of Marcus Luttrell, this is an action-packed and exceedingly well-crafted movie full of great performances. I have to admit that when I first heard about it, it didn’t look that promising. I mean, the title gave away the entire story and in the lead role, we have Mark Wahlberg. How could this mess surpass the masterpiece that is Black Hawk Down? However, all of my doubts were dispelled within the first few minutes. And then, about 40 minutes in, all hell breaks loose.

The production values were superb, making full use of both New Mexico’s rugged terrain which nicely stood in for Afghanistan. We will be following a Navy SEAL team tasked with finding a vicious local warlord in the Korangal Valley. Lone Survivor focuses on this single unit forgoing the big picture. By focusing on these individual characters, it brings the horrors of war and combat directly into your room. Because of this, I will also forgo my usual rant about the clusterfuck that was the war in Afghanistan. After all, we will not be following politicians, members of the Military-Industrial complex, or other assholes. 

We will be following soldiers who went into combat with clear objectives. So, I suggest you check out your moral qualms at the door and go into this experience without prejudice. It’s also quite natural to balance the disturbing nature of some of the scenes with reasonable questions like what the fuck were they doing there in the first place. Be aware of these processes and try to focus on the magnitude of the events you’re watching. Events that really did happen. So, these are real people who died and survived there. Additionally, 12 minutes in, the real Marcus Luttrell appears as Frankie, the guy with the sunglasses who spills the coffee.

Director Peter Berg was trying to make this movie for five fucking years! Ever since he read Marcus Luttrell’s autobiography, Peter was pestering people for money. He eventually came up with $50 million and made a fucking masterpiece. Who knew that old Dr. Billy Kronk from Chicago Hope had it in him? Sure, Very Bad Things and The Kingdom were good movies but Hancock and Battleship were quite bad. This is his best movie to date and I can say the same thing for Mark Wahlberg. In fact, both of them agree with me and have said so in numerous interviews. 

Lone Survivor features an incredibly suspenseful atmosphere and phenomenally good shootouts. They are not flashy or pompous and yet they feel exciting and highly captivating. Time will fly with this one, I tell you. The replay value is huge and over the past ten years, I must’ve seen this movie at least six times. And each time I kept thinking how good it is, even though I’ve already seen it. It’s just so damn well-crafted and immersive that each time I felt like I was right there, in Afghanistan, just trying to make it to dawn. Now, they did exaggerate the number of Taliban a bit but that’s totally okay.

This is an action movie, after all. We’re lucky we didn’t end up with a hilariously bad adaptation like 12 Strong. On the other hand, the whole harrowing ordeal lasted not three but five days. As you can already guess, things will take a turn for the worse in this movie. In that sense, it reminds me of another 2014 war movie, Kajaki. It’s also based on true events and set in Afghanistan but it features much less action focusing on the nail-bitingly disturbing atmosphere with stunning efficiency. I just noticed that I’ve talked about Wahlberg but forgot to mention the rest of the cast. 

First of all, if you’re wondering what the fuck is Dan Bilzerian doing here, he paid one cool mill to be in the movie. Taylor Kitsch, Eric Bana (Black Hawk Down veteran), and especially Ben Foster all gave amazing performances. They also underwent extensive training to look like real Navy SEALs. This training period was topped off with simulated combat with real SEALs who played the Taliban. Kitsch apparently was the best among the cast. And yet, this entire movie, at least for me, boils down to one of the most emotional and poignant scenes I have ever seen.

It’s the scene where Ben Foster is sitting, propped up against a fallen tree while bleeding heavily. The wheezing sounds he made sent chills down my spine. Since the movie focuses almost entirely on the action and not character development, this moment stood out. Finally, if you’re looking for movies like Lone Survivor, do check out The Outpost, The Siege of Jadotville, and 13 Hours. And if you’ve already seen them, take a look at Mosul, a gritty war movie full of excellent action scenes that’s also based on true events.

Director: Peter Berg

Writer: Peter Berg, Marcus Luttrell, Patrick Robinson

Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Taylor Kitsch, Emile Hirsch, Ben Foster, Yousuf Azami, Eric Bana, Dan Bilzerian

Fun Facts: There wasn’t enough money to shoot the scenes where the team is falling down the side of a mountain using green screen and CGI. So, the stunt team had to do everything the old fashioned way.


True Events: Operation Red Wings

IMDb Link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1091191/

YouTube player