January 9th, 2014— ‘Lone Survivor’ is the film adaption of the book of the same title, which depicts the failed covert mission, “Operation Red Wings.” During the operation, four members of Seal Team 10 are ambushed while trying to eliminate a Taliban leader in Afghanistan.
Given the film’s incredible source material, I was slightly disappointed with the final product. This was due to writer/director Peter Berg’s involvement. 2013 was an interesting year for Berg, who received nominations for best adaptive screenplay (‘Lone Survivor’) and two Razzies (‘Battleship.')
The first thirty-minutes are slow, even boring, and provide little characterization. Also, it’s confusing, thanks to three disconnected opening scenes. Although the performances are fine, most of the characters look too much alike (shaggy beards and sunglasses). Berg also focuses on the SEALs’ deaths rather than developing the characters. The Taliban is depicted with no redeeming qualities, while the Navy SEALs are heroic, patriotic, and self-sacrificing. This simplistic ‘good vs. evil’ world view robs the film of any depth.
After a rough first act, ‘Lone Survivor’ finally gets its footing, and even though the audience already knows the final outcome, the film was able to deliver tense scenes. It is hard to believe that so much went wrong during this mission, and these non-fiction elements help the audience to become invested with the characters.
‘Lone Survivor’ is one of those movies that has a ‘must-see-part.’ However to get there, you must slog through the first act. Act two is one extended action scene, and is the highlight of the film. By this point, the excitement should be enough to hold your interest to the end.
The film’s score was completely flat, almost non-existent. Keep in mind that a strong musical score can lift an average movie from dull to amazing. The visuals are well done, and I appreciate the use of squibs rather than the CGI effects.
As a modern war film, ‘Lone Survivor’ will be compared to ‘Black Hawk Down’ and ‘The Hurt Locker.’ In that regard, this movie feels less substantial, muddled with odd production and writing decisions. For a movie technically released in 2013 for award concretization, is ‘Lone Survivor’ worth your time? If the true story element interests you, then yes, you will probably enjoy the film. But if you’re expecting fleshed-out characters or creative action set pieces, then no; you’ll probably hate every minute. The added elements of fiction add little or even hurt ‘Lone Survivor,’ while the non-fiction events are its strength and emotional core.