Monday, December 23, 2013

MINI-REVIEW: Lone Survivor

Lone Survivor

Mark Wahlberg, Ben Foster


December 25, 2013 (NY/LA)
January 10, 2014 (WIDE)

Peter Berg

Universal Pictures

2 hours 1 minute



It seems that every decade has that one war movie that could stand the test of time and become a classic among cinema-goers.  The 80s brought us Oliver Stone's "Platoon," the 90s brought us Steven Spielberg's "Saving Private Ryan," the 2000s brought us Ridley Scott's "Black Hawk Down," and now the 2010's have brought to the table "Lone Survivor," a film starring/produced by Mark Wahlberg that tells the heartbreakingly true story of a group of Navy SEAL Team's mission to kill a Taliban leader becoming a quest for survival after a chance encounter with a group of Taliban sheep herders.  The movie tells you right off the bat that Mark Wahlberg's character, Marcus Luttrell, is the only one who will survive the fatal mission.  However, the film is more about the journey that Luttrell and his "brothers" go on in order to attempt to survive.  And what is presented over the next two hours is intense, hard to watch, and incredibly emotional.  "Lone Survivor" is either one of the last great movies in 2013 or the first great movie you'll see in 2014, depending on when the film hits your town.

A film like this wouldn't have worked well without its cast being devoted to their roles and literally become their characters.  The chemistry between Mark Wahlberg, Ben Foster, Taylor Kitsch, and Emile Hirsch is amazing to watch unfold, as they not only act like best friends, but they fight as if they were each a mother lioness protecting her cubs from impending danger.  Not to mention, their performances alone are fantastic.  Wahlberg gives possibly the best performance I've seen him do, as he makes the audience believe that he has truly become this tragic character.  Every scene with him is captivating and emotional, and even kind of sweet during the first half hour or so.  Character actor Ben Foster also dominates it in the film, so much so that he's able to emulate a man who would not go down without a fight despite his face being gashed open.  Taylor Kitsch and Emile Hirsch also give fantastic performances, both showing their cocky sides and their humorous sides.  Hell, all of the performances in this film are fantastic, but these 4 successfully manage to hold the film together and make the film theirs.

Director Peter Berg apparently had to direct "Battleship" for Universal in oder to get financial backup for this movie, and after seeing the film, that was most definitely the right sacrifice to give.  Not only is he able to effectively capture the harsh and realistic brutality of war in a stylish and gritty matter, but he also manages to tell an incredible story with characters whom we care for and don't want to meet their fatal demises.  I honestly can't think of a single flaw present in this movie, and I could see this becoming a classic amongst other war films out there.  The acting is stellar, the cinematography is gorgeous and gritty at the same time, and Peter Berg brings this incredibly tragic true story to the big screen in tremendous fashion.  Plus, when a film manages to make you respect the brave men fighting for this country day after day even more than you had before, you know you saw something good.  "Lone Survivor" overall is dark, gritty, emotional, and one of the year's best movies.

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