Friday, 5 September 2014

Lone Survivor

Going into Lone Survivor you already know the outcome of the film. I mean, it’s called ‘LONE Survivor’ for a reason; the filmmakers didn’t really hide the outcome of this based-on-real-life war flick. But despite this the film still manages to keep you on edge for its whole two hour running time. You know three quarters of the main cast will be killed along the way and this makes for an interesting watching experience as, even before all hell breaks loose, you’ll have a knot in your stomach because you know what’s coming.

The film itself starts out a little bit generic, feeling like a number of other war films such as Black Hawk Down, filled with incomprehensible military jargon to set the scene; 4 soldiers are sent in to a nearby Afghanistan town to capture or kill an infamous terrorist. Pretty standard action/war movie fare so far, but the movie soon opens up and ramps up in originality once the men get to their destination. The friendship between them feels real, with the actors doing a great job of conveying the real life friendship these men had. The main character is Mark Wahlberg as Marcus Luttrell, reminding people that he can act when given chance to. The other men are played by smaller but no less impressive actors such as Ben Foster, Emile Hirsch and Taylor Kitsch. Their great performances help lessen the over-the-top Jingoism that, at times, seems in danger of taking over the film, a problem that plagued director Peter Berg’s last war film, The Kingdom.

While the first half of the film starts off slow, building the friendship between these men, the second half is pure action, and damn good action at that. After the terrorist they were sent to take down is alerted to their position the men must fight their way out. But this isn’t some made up Hollywood story, this actually happened and we know who isn’t going to make it. So rather than cheering the men on as they kill faceless enemies, we are left on the edge of our seats, every bullet making us flinch. And it isn’t quick for the men as they are all shot and wounded along the way, with a particularly excruciating scene involving them falling down a mountain, hitting their heads and limbs on trees and rocks on the way down. The sound effects and practical effects (by The Walking Dead’s effects guy, Greg Nicotero) are done brilliantly, never once taking you out of the moment and helping create some toe curlingly visceral action. Not for the faint of heart but if you’re like me and that stuff doesn’t bother you, then you’ll be on the edge of your seat the entire time. Just as the action starts feeling a bit one sided, and most of the Americans have had a heroic death, we are shown the good side of the Afghanistan people, rarely seen in these sorts of films. Unlike the majority of war films, such as The Kingdom and to some extent Black Hawk Down, Lone Survivor actually shows a nicer, more realistic side to the locals and they aren’t all portrayed as evil.

If you’re a fan of war movies or action movies then Lone Survivor is an easy recommendation. While Lone Survivor starts off slow and slightly generic, it soon shows its originality and becomes something more unique than your average military film. The friendship between the ultimately doomed characters is brilliantly realised and, most importantly, believable. The action is directed well, and all the actors do a damn good job. Perhaps it’s overly patriotic, boarding on jingoistic, at times but Lone Survivor is still an emotional and well-directed action film. If you’re in the mood for something hard hitting, well-acted and action packed then you could do a lot worse than Lone Survivor.

Lone Survivor gets a 4/5.


Tom Bumby

Lone Survivor at CeX

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