Allie's Take: It's no secret that Lone Survivor is based on a true story of Operation Red Wings, a tragic Navy SEAL mission. At the end of the movie, the film pays tribute to the real-life individuals involved in the events by showing photos of them with their loved ones.
To the sole woman in the theater who started putting on her coat on while their photos were scrolling across the screen: shame on you. You shouldn't be allowed to see this movie.
In terms of the movie--go see it. Mark Wahlberg is great playing Marcus Luttrell but the true gems of this movie are the story and the cinematography. The former is true, and the real-life Luttrell even appears in the movie for a few scenes. It's a heartbreaking story but it shows the strength of these SEALS. The latter is brutal--but then again, so were the actual events. The movie doesn't shy away from blood or the painstaking detail of the SEALs falling down rocky cliffs.
A fair amount of reviews for this movie address the broader questions--U.S. pride, military commentary, etc. Make of it what you will, but the movie itself addresses these ideas. In the scene from the trailer in which the SEALs have to decide whether to kill or let free local Afghans, the soldiers debate what it would mean if they killed civilians, and one of them notes that it's about the present moment--that they have to decide based on the moment and not on the repercussions or reputations. Shouldn't we do the same for this film? I think it deserves a viewing just to watch and listen to what the memories of these men have to say, instead of obsessing over what Hollywood is trying to tell us.
Stars: 5 out of 5
What not to do before seeing the film: Eat
What to do after seeing the film: Go to www.adoptaplatoon.org and give back a little something
Bob's Take: Lone Survivor is a tense, well-made film about some American soldiers in a doomed mission. As Allie mentioned, most of the criticism of the film is that it is jingoistic and overly simplistic in its patriotism and most of this is misplaced. The film portrays patriotic soldiers (and due to the true source material of the film, they are honored) but there's not this Pro-America, pro-war Hoo-rah attitude to the film some critics are accusing the film of having. After all, the film is about a failed mission; one that fails in part because of the protocol established by the military.
My only real complaint with the film is that there isn't enough distinction between the characters on the screen or personality given to them to be fully human characters. They look alike, talk alike, and act alike. When they are given characterization, even that is similar (one man we see really wants to buy a horse for his fiancé. Another man we see is IMing his wife who he really misses). This time we spend before we getting to the action of the film could’ve been used to illustrate these characters a little bit better. Once we get to the mission, the film is spectacularly suspenseful, but if I better understood the relationship between the four men (I didn’t know who was in charge of who, etc) the effect would’ve been amplified even more. Even with that flaw though, Lone Survivor is still an intense, powerful film worth seeing.
How does it compare to other films about American Soldiers?
Worse Than: Saving Private Ryan, Three Kings
Better than: Pearl Harbor, Black Hawk Down