Intense Warfare for a ‘Lone Survivor’

Like many of my generation, I grew up watching violent war movies the likes of Saving Private Ryan, Black Hawk Down and the Band of Brothers miniseries. I also spent much of my adolescence glued to the screen playing blood-soaked video games such as Call of Duty, yet none of this prepared me for the intense authenticity of the combat scenes featured in the latest war film, “Lone Survivor.”

Based on the true story of Operation Red Wings, which took place in Afghanistan in 2005, Lone Survivor follows the story of a four-man Navy SEAL reconnaissance and surveillance team tasked with assassinating a local para-Taliban militia leader named Ahmad Shah. However, things quickly begin to unravel after the SEALs are discovered by a group of local goatherds and are subsequently ambushed by a small army of Shah’s men.

The remainder of the film is essentially one extended combat scene as the four men make increasingly desperate attempts to establish communication with their forward operations base to request evacuation, all the while engaging in a haze of gunfire and explosions through the harsh, unforgiving terrain of an Afghan mountain range.

This film is not for the faint of heart. It takes a brutal, unapologetic look at modern combat and challenges audiences to deal with it in a way that no other war film has to date. The raw carnage is relentless, brutal and nothing short of terrifying, however it is also what sets the film apart from the typical war movie.

While the combat accounts for the majority of the film, “Lone Survivor’s” greatest achievement comes during its softer scenes. The establishing, pre-mission portion of the story highlights the personalities of its characters.

These soldiers, despite being battle-hardened and having graduated the infamously rigorous Navy SEAL training program, are still regular guys. Overall, they all are the kind of guys you feel like you could have a beer with.

Though the gunfights are enough to inspire a minor panic attack, and the grisly violence will deliver audible gasps, “Lone Survivor” covers a broader spectrum of storytelling than one might suspect. The acting isn’t going to reign in any awards, but the film is absolutely worth watching… if you are up to the task.


RECOMMENDED: “Lone Survivor” presents a graphically realistic portrayal of military warfare in the Middle East.