Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Film Review: Lone Survivor (2013)

Lone Survivor (Review)
United States/2013
Format Viewed For Review: Blu-ray (Universal Studios)
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"...emotionally-effective, incredibly entertaining, and even motivational."

Four Navy SEALs on a recon and surveillance operation are attacked when the operation goes haywire...

Lone Survivor is a very simple story. The film follows leader Michael P. Murphy (Taylor Kitsch), snipers Marcus Luttrell (Mark Wahlberg) and Matthew Axelson (Ben Foster), and communications specialist Danny Dietz (Emile Hirsch) during this operation. Soon after the operation begins, they're spotted by goat herders and have to make a difficult decision: kill the goat herders, tie them up and leave them, or free them. Of course, they free them with unfortunate consequences. So, they later find themselves fighting the Taliban through the woody area. It's fairly easy to guess the ending of this film: you simply have to read the title and check out the cover or poster.

Despite the very simple narrative, Lone Survivor was an effective drama with splendid action sequences. We really don't spend a lot of time with these characters (or people, if you'd like), so we don't experience a strong personal bond. However, thanks to the footage during the introduction, we at least get an idea of the bond our troops hold. It's not the ideal situation, but it's a decent substitute. Otherwise, we get a very stylized drama with elegant editing and sentimental music; on the surface, it really works in creating a motivational and even triumphant film.

I would like to note: the first half of the film does well in developing the situation and introducing our characters, despite the missing the relationship development. The second half of the film is much more action-oriented. There's still a little bit of drama in the character sacrifices and losses, but it's more boom and pow than the rest of the film. Fortunately, it blends very well. The film's pacing was superb thanks to the seamless blend of all of these elements -- the drama, action, and the humor compliment each other very well. The action, by the way, is fantastic. A lot of tension and suspense -- I like that, I like it a lot.

Mark Wahlberg is great as the leading man -- there was a scene that was a little overdone, but Wahlberg does well for the most part. Ben Foster is fantastic, and I also enjoyed Eric Bana's performance despite his limited screen time. The film is shot very well -- the scenery is captured beautifully. The camerawork is fluid and consistent -- perfect for the action sequences. The music was also great, it helped amplify the emotion. Director Peter Berg delivers a consistently paced and exciting action film with good drama elements; however, I certainly wish there was more depth to the characters, especially the personal bond they held.

Overall, Lone Survivor is a great film. It works well as a drama, and superbly as an action film. It has just enough to be emotionally-effective, incredibly entertaining, and even motivational. There are some flaws with the lack of character depth and the predictable narrative, but some of it is forgivable thanks to its other exemplary features. (Also, I can't really fault it for being predicable considering it's a dramatization of a true story.) I really enjoyed this experience, it comes highly recommended -- it's much better than Act of Valor and Zero Dark Thirty.

Score: 8/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and blood.

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