By Gary Murray

Starring Mark Wahlberg, Eric Bana and Taylor Kitsch

Written by Peter Berg

Based on the book by Marcus Luttrell and Patrick Robinson

Directed by Peter Berg

Running time 121 min

MPAA Rating R

Selig Film Rating FULL PRICE       


There have been films about war almost as long as there has been film.   Some of our best motion pictures from All is Quiet on the Western Front to Saving Private Ryan have been set in the pathos of conflict.  The latest to take on the warring of man is Lone Survivor and it is one of true gems of the year.

The real life story is of Marcus Luttrell played by Mark Walberg.  He is a part of the Navy SEAL team in the Middle East.  They have a mission—to take out Taliban leader Ahmad Shahd. 

The men get intelligence on the whereabouts of the terrorist and are sent on a mission to take him out.  The first part of the film is the planning of taking out the man.  We see the men bond as warriors and how they interact with each other.   This is a boy’s club of macho challenges.  Then, they are dropped behind enemy lines.

The mission is compromised when a trio of goat herders comes upon the men.  Our team must make a decision.  They must either kill three innocent men to keep the mission going or they let the men go and risk being found out.  Eventually the SEAL team decides to let the men go and the men run down the mountain.  The cover is blown and the element of surprise is gone.

Very soon after that moment, the four men are surrounded by dozens of Taliban fighters.  It becomes an Alamo style of a last stand on a mountain side.  It also becomes a melee of violence and death.   There are horrifying images put upon the screen while the battle ensues.   The guys eventually tumble down the mountain in a brutal loss of ground.

The film follows Marcus through the attack and his eventual safe haven within a village.  The honor of combat is shown by different men as Marcus tries to get back to his base and the safety of American held lands. 

Director Peter Berg has crafted a film that is equally about honor and horror. These are men who live by an ancient code that has been developed during the ages.  They are not some super men who roar into battle like they do in The Expendables but real men sent to do a job by their country.  It is the humanity of the situation that endears the characters to the audience.

This is easily the strongest performance of Mark Wahlberg’s career.  He does not play the role as some macho super soldier but as just a man who is in a terror situation.  His Marcus is a man who is scared but still in charge of his emotional core.  He knows that they cannot kill innocent men but letting the goat herders go will sign their death warrants.  It is a tough moral decision that real men have had to make many times during conflict.  It becomes a truism.

Much along the lines of The Wild Bunch from years ago, this film is very hard to watch.   With a title like Lone Survivor, it is easy to know exactly how it is going to end.  To watch Americans die is tough to stomach but it is the principle of the situation that comes to the forefront.  In the end, Lone Survivor is about respect.

Lone Survivor is one of the best movies of 2013 and on my top ten list of the year.  It is a film that will haunt the recesses of the mind for many years to come.  It is hard to watch but a film that should not be missed. 

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