Lone Survivor


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Lone Survivor
"What the war machines of the West have done to Iraq and Afghanistan does not need the John Wayne treatment"

War is beautiful. Cinematically speaking you may be right but otherwise it destroys everything you hold dear.

Lone Survivor looks great. You can't go wrong accompanying helicopters into the dawn sunrise, especially against the fierce grandeur of an Afghan mountainscape.

Copy picture

The film is based on a true story. The title and opening sequence, in which an almost dead Mark Wahlberg is stretchered into the medical centre at Bagram Air Base, followed by the legend Three Days Earlier, tells you everything you don't want to know about what happens next.

As an intro to the Special Forces op to take out an al Qaeda leader you must endure a Navy Seals training sesh, which, to the outsider, looks like mental and physical abuse, coupled with some undiluted propaganda ("There's a storm inside of us, a drive to push yourself further than anyone thought possible"), mainlining on buddy machismo designed to make the folks back home feel proud of their over equipped, expensively protected brave soldier boys.

The operation goes wrong and an elite commando unit is pinned down on forest crags by men in nightshirts. If it wasn't so bloody it would be straight out of Carry On Taliban.

The film becomes a furious firefight, lasting longer than you would like. As in those Seventies slasher flicks in which a psycho with an axe disposes of a cabin full of teenagers, you watch these men being shot to pieces - slowly - by mountain savvy peasants.

What the war machines of the West have done to Iraq and Afghanistan does not need the John Wayne treatment. In a scene where the murder of two young boys and an old man is contemplated the only thing stopping it appears to be fear of CNN exposure.

However well made - director Peter Berg deserves credit - laying on the sentiment ("Tell Cindy how much I Ioved her and that I died with my brothers"), wrapped in the stars and stripes, does not feel comfortable anymore.

Reviewed on: 01 Feb 2014
Share this with others on...
Lone Survivor packshot
A dramatisation of a failed US assassination mission in Afghanistan.
Amazon link

Read more Lone Survivor reviews:

Jennie Kermode *1/2

Director: Peter Berg

Writer: Peter Berg

Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Ben Foster, Eric Bana, Taylor Kitsch, Emile Hirsch, Alexander Ludwig, Yousuf Azami, Ali Suliman, Rohan Chand

Year: 2013

Runtime: 121 minutes

Country: US


Search database:

If you like this, try:

Kandahar Break: Fortress Of War