Lone Survivor recounts the 2005 mission in which four US Navy SEALS (Mark Wahlberg, Taylor Kitsch, Emile Hirsch and Ben Foster) are sent to kill or capture an al-Queda leader concealed in a Taliban stronghold. An ill-fated encounter with some locals launches a chain of events resulting in team leader Markus Lutterell (Wahlberg) being left, you guessed it, the lone survivor. 

 

Writer/Director Peter Berg is masterful in his depiction of the hour-long battle scene around which the film centres. Through effective camera angles and comprehensive screenwriting, Berg challenges the audience to remain engaged – especially when faced with the bone crunching, flesh piercing realism of the injuries portrayed.

 

As in most action films though, the mounds of aggressors (in this case Taliban insurgents) are more easily slayed than any of the four heroes. Although the filmmakers may be attempting to convey the superior skills of Navy SEALS over rag-tag Taliban fighters, the bad guys’ penchant for keeling over seems somewhat exaggerated.

 

Berg puts himself in the political firing line again with an American right wing sentiment at the heart of this project. This comes after his 2007 thriller The Kingdom, based around the bombing of a foreign-workers facility in Saudi Arabia, drew anti-Arab criticism from the Saudi press.

 

Given the Ten Commandments are cited almost as law within the first few pages of the best-selling book, the current film seems practically pro-Taliban in comparison. Thankfully much of this vitriol doesn’t appear on screen, possibly to foster a broader appeal among audiences outside Middle America.

 

Ultimately enjoyment of this film depends on one thing – your politics. Some will revel in what it celebrates, while others will need to shelve their beliefs to see it through.

 

2/5 stars

Lone Survivor is in cinemas now. 

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