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Jacqueline Monahan's Movie Reviews

Lone Survivor | Mark Wahlberg, Emile Hirsch, Ben Foster, Taylor Kitsch, Eric Bana | Review

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Jacqueline  Monahan

Las Vegas Round The Clock
Jacqueline Monahan is an educator for the GEAR UP program at UNLV.
She is also an entertainment reporter for
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Lone Survivor | Mark Wahlberg, Emile Hirsch, Ben Foster, Taylor Kitsch, Eric Bana | Review

Take the title; add a group of Navy SEALs on a mountaintop mission in Afghanistan and the film’s outcome is a foregone conclusion before the first scenes even flicker across the screen.  Those scenes, which introduce actual SEAL training, are fascinating, mesmerizing, bone-chilling, and any other endurance superlative or hyperbole you can imagine.  SEALs are the cream of the crop in combat, weaponry and tactical strategy, almost indestructible in the field.  Almost.

Four members of the elite SEALs undertake the task of zeroing in and erasing a ruthless Taliban leader (Yousuf Azami) hidden in a small mountain village.  Discovered early in the mission by a group of goatherds, the vastly outnumbered quartet’s entire operation goes awry, and the group fights for its life as it tries to flee the advancing militia, handicapped by sketchy communications and near-fatal wounds.

Meet the cast and say your goodbyes; this team is doomed.  The film centers on the struggle, the loss, and the rescue of the one man who makes it out of the massacre.

Mark Wahlberg portrays medic Marcus Luttrell, who, assisted by Patrick Robinson, wrote the book upon which the film is based, detailing the failed 2005 Operation Red Wings mission.  Along with Lt. Michael Murphy (Taylor Kitsch), gunner's mate Danny P. Dietz (Emile Hirsch) and sonar technician Matthew "Axe" Axelson (Ben Foster) Luttrell was deployed to Afghanistan as part of a surveillance team until they themselves were discovered.

It is more than a little unnerving to see the precision-based unit flounder almost from the onset of their covert operation until all of the men are compromised. The camera follows guerilla combat in painfully slow motion shots that accentuate the bone crunching injuries and multiple gunshot wounds encountered on steep slopes of harsh, rocky terrain.

Afghanis are portrayed as both villainous and heroic in this viewer tag-along (the audience is with the team almost as if they were part of their equipment) as the film reveals the ferocious courage, confidence, stamina, and all-in attitude of the SEALs in the face of constant danger and horrific injuries.

Writer/director Peter Berg (The Last Seduction) adapted the screenplay from Luttrell’s 2007 book of the same name.  His combat shots – both types – are flinch-inducing and powerful, a window into a world that is all too real for many American soldiers.

Poignant pictures of the actual SEALs involved in Operation Red Wings end the saga, a reminder of how possible it is for even the best to be bested.

With Eric Bana.

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