Lone Survivor – Review


On a surface level, a movie about a team of four Navy SEALS on an assassination mission in Afghanistan and given the title Lone Survivor may be one of the dumbest marketing exercises Hollywood has produced to date. Give Lone Survivor the benefit of the doubt however, and what you’ll find is a enjoyably gritty and intense take on the Behind Enemy Lines/Black Hawk Down concept. 


A pay-off picture for director Peter Berg (the utterly dismal Battleship was allegedly the studio’s fee for getting a shot at this true-story tale), Lone Survivor threatens, in it’s opening and closing, to quickly devolve into the sort of mindless flag-waving nonsense that sunk last year’s otherwise conceptually-novel Act Of Valor. These fears are quickly swept aside however by a great ensemble, tight focussed storytelling and a movie-making playground perfectly suited to Berg’s frenetic, yet militaristic, sensibility. 


Of the central four cast members, none fail to hold interest. In particular Wahlberg, here dismissing his leading man credentials to (atypically) serve as part of an ensemble, is a definite highlight – reminding us precisely why his unlikely acting career has bore as much fruit to date as it has. Emile Hirsh follows on his career-best performance in last year’s terrific Prince Avalanche with a very effective and well-measured performance, with Taylor Kitsch also surprising in a role that may not entirely wash away the aftertaste of Battleship, but at least goes some way towards it. Ben Foster meanwhile, is always an unhinged joy to watch, and his jingoistically intense turn doesn’t fail to measure up to his usual standard. 


It’s a first rate down-and-dirty war tale, with just the right level of grit and energetic storytelling to hold an audience’s interest and even elicit a few cheers along the way. It may not be entirely successful in recapturing the dizzying heights of Ridley Scott’s modern combat classic, settling instead for being Black Hawk Halfway-Down, and does end with the single worst cover of a classic song so far this year, but it’s a solid picture that plays well to it’s director’s strengths.



Catch Van Connor’s reviews in our Movies section and live on Slam Dunk Cinema every Saturday at 12PM on Sheffield Live! 93.2FM or on the podcast via iTunes.


In it
Mark Wahlberg, Taylor Kitsch, Emile Hirsch

Behind it
Peter Berg

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