Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Lone Survivor

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! The Asylum has probably already made a mockbuster called Loan Survivor.

Lone Survivor – 4 out of 5

Any time a movie comes out about the war in Iraq or Afghanistan, I take it with a grain of salt because my first instinct says the film is a piece of propaganda about how totes awesome the USA is (really, all American war films are done this way—except Vietnam, we’re not afraid to show how we fucked up big time there).  When Lone Survivor came out, all my friends with military service went and saw it and jumped on Facebook to say how awesome it was.  Fearing that I would look like a “commie asshole” if I said, “Yeah, I can wait till RedBox to see that because you recommended Act of Valor to me and those dudes couldn’t act for shit,” I decided to do one worse; I put the film on my Netflix queue and just waited it out.  To put it bluntly, I wasn’t exactly lining up to see this film as soon as possible.
Not to downplay the seriousness of the film but does anyone else
hear The A-Team theme when they look at this still?

To continue to put it bluntly, I was surprised with the final result.
Little does he know is that tree is actually Peeta hiding.

Based on the book of the same name, Lone Survivor dramatizes the failed Navy SEALs mission Operation Red Wings (I would make some joke about the hockey team but sports confuse and frighten me).  The operation was simple; a four man team would be sent in to get reconnaissance on and track a Taliban leader by the name of Shah (played by Yousuf Azami).  Led by Michael Murphy (Taylor Kitsch) and made up of Marcus Luttrell (Mark Wahlberg), Danny Dietz (Emile Hirsch), and Matt “Axe” Axelson (Ben Foster), the operation should have been straight forward but the team is found and the Taliban forces are alerted.  With no rescue in sight and outnumbered by opposing forces, the team is picked off one by one and Luttrell is left alone to try and survive and be rescued.

"Why is Fortunate Son playing?  This isn't Vietnam!"

Not only did I fear this movie was just one long Toby Keith album about ‘Murica, I also was worried because the film was directed by Peter Berg and that guy was behind the camera on Battleship and, to top that off, the film’s four major characters were played by actors that I either just don’t care about, find to be absolutely terrible, or suffer from being “hit or miss.”  However, like I admitted and have shown with my score, the pro-America cheerleading I though the film was going to be was completely unfounded.  But could I have been wrong about the other two concerns?
"I sure hope he says 'hello' to his mother for me."
Short answer, yes.
"You should see the other guy...he's dead, actually.  I shot him in the face."

While Peter Berg is a decent actor, I’m not a fan of a lot of the movies he does—especially Battleship.  And yes, the awful taste left by that board game-based film was still in the back of my mouth when I got Lone Survivor from Netflix (pay me, Netflix.  I've dropped your name exactly three times in this review).  However, despite the fact that Berg seems to be a fan of Hot Rod as he included not one, but two, needlessly long scenes of the Navy SEALs falling down a hill, the film was put together quite well and Berg really gave you a feel of the danger the SEALs were in.  He also approached the film with a little more respect than I had anticipated.
Cool beans.

It would have been easy to adapt the book and make everyone in the Middle East look like Taliban supporters whose only desire is to murder every American—and Fox News would have declared it the greatest movie ever made and older country artists would write songs about it and how they hate having a black man in office.  However, Berg is showing the true enemy is the Taliban and they are not only an enemy to the United States' armed forces but to the people of Afghanistan, too.  In Marcus Luttrell’s real tale, he was sheltered by the people of a village until helped arrived and even told Taliban forces to politely go fuck themselves when they came around to collect him.  Now, granted, in the film this is expressed and results in a fire fight because historical accuracy isn’t something Hollywood or movies go for but, still, for what it is worth, Berg crafted a film that doesn’t slyly argue to the Afghani people are all terrorists. 
Another thing Berg did, remind us that, despite Hulk, Eric Bana is a great actor.

Finally, I was really worried about Kitsch, Hirsch, Foster, and Wahlberg.  While Wahlberg can be hit or miss and be really good in one project and absolutely terrible in another, his presence in the film wasn’t as worrisome as the others.  Taylor Kitsch is an actor that I have yet to see a really great performance from, Emile Hirsch is an actor that always came off as overrated to me because I was always told he was amazing but never really saw anything that special in him, and Ben Foster is just annoying as fuck as he overacts like a madman in literally every role I have seen him in—subtlety has never been his strong suit. 
I thank Foster for fighting the urge to ham and cheese up his role.
"This is not a good time to talk about small business loans..."
However, each and every single actor was fantastic—and, more importantly, very believable—in their roles.  Sure, Foster has to have a scene here and there where he hams it up and looks ready to pounce and eat all the scenery he can but he was still great in it.  All of them showed me that they have some talent in them and why they get paid to do what they do—which is a big surprise when it concerns Taylor Kitsch because, after a string of terrible films with him looking like he’s barely trying, I was starting to wonder if he did movies for free and that’s how he showed up in an X-men film, a legendary sci-fi novel, an Oliver Stone film, and a board game that had no business being adapted.
Here we see Taylor Kitsch chasing Emile Hirsch in an effort to get him to watch both
Battleship and John Carter.

Okay, so all my fears about the film ended up proving to be unnecessary as the film is really good and tells an amazing story of dedication and survival (and is so good, you can overlook the inaccuracies it has).  Not only that, Lone Survivor has some intense action, heavy drama, and some of the best sound editing I’ve ever heard in a movie (it really helped put the viewer into the madness of the firefights).  To boil it down to a single sentence, Lone Survivor proved to be better than I had anticipated.

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