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January 22, 2018

Lone Survivor (2013) --- "American Soldiers Get In A Fire Fight And Tumble Down A Cliff Face. Who Will Survive?"

Plot Summary
In 2005 Afghanistan, Navy SEALs Marcus Luttrell (Mark Wahlberg), Michael Murphy (Taylor Kitsch), Danny Dietz (Emile Hirsch) and Matthew "Axe" Axelson (Ben Foster) deploy on a mission of surveillance and to take out Taliban leader Ahmad Shah. Though spotted by goatherds, Luttrell and his team decide not to kill them. But one of the Afghans alerts a group of Taliban fighters to the invaders, and a terrible battle ensues, in which the SEALs find themselves hopelessly outnumbered and outgunned. (1)

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Hello, Movie Buffs! 
Rated R for strong bloody war violence and pervasive language
     Lone Survivor (2013) is an American biographical war thriller film based on the 2007 true-story book, of the same name, by Marcus Luttrell with Patrick Robinson. The film’s title alone proves to be just as haunting as the film itself, and despite audiences already knowing the ultimate ending you can’t help but hope for a change in the ending. This film explores a classic military scenario like the Battle of Thermopylae or the Battle of the Alamo. When some of the greatest warriors of our age are hopelessly outnumbered and face certain death? They simply become who they were trained to be.
     The cast in this film was amazing and the roles were performed greatly, both heroes and enemies. Mark Wahlberg (Invincible) as usual is uncompromising and as tough as nails, Emile Hirsch (Speed Racer) is strong and vulnerable, Taylor Kitsch (American Assassin) is compelling as the leader has to make difficult decisions, and Ben Foster (Hell or High Water, Warcraft) frighteningly balances a character that is both caring and cold. There is also the somewhat newcomer Alexander Ludwig and the ever-reliable Eric Bana (Troy, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword). Every performance is powerful and the effect is not only inspiring but also emotional.
The first 40 minutes are away introducing the characters personalities before the big action starts. Petty Officer Second Class Shane Patton (Alexander LudwigVikings TV show) is being initiated as a SEAL and as such he has to recite a long monologue basically stating that he’s the ultimate fighting man. But rather than shouting the speech, he instead recites the lines quite eloquently, as if he's examining his own conscience as well as trying to find his place amongst the guys. Although he is a minor character, his speech offers as a background for the main characters. But it the next 40 minutes that are action-packed, non-stop, brutal war scenes that leave you breathless.
     Some people question whether Peter Berg (Patriot’s Day) over exaggerated the brutal scenes, however after reading the book you will find that the scenes were done flawlessly. The tension starts building the moment a scope lines up with an enemy head, the first shot is fired, and the chase begins. There are slow-motion shots, excellent direction, and beautiful cinematography that provides clear close-ups of kills and wounds that make you cringe and tear up for the four soldiers. Beyond the technology, most of the scenes work well due to gorgeous locations, classic costumes (Amy Stofsky), realistic special effect make-up (Greg Nicotero and Danielle Vigil), epic music (Explosions in the Sky and Steve Jablonsky), and a quick and engaging script (Peter Berg). Of course, there were a few things that were changed from book to film, in particular, the village scene towards the end was a bit different from the book but you can’t expect everything thing to be perfect. However, the film causes you to ponder on it long after credits roll and a number of questions come to mind. What would have happened if they did this instead of that? What if they went here instead of there? How would the mission have gone if the four soldiers knew everything that was going to happen beforehand? With no support or hope for an extraction. But among all the questions, one statement stands out the most. There is no telling how far the human body can be pushed.
     Overall, Lone Survivor (2013) is a very emotional, heart-pounding film that demonstrates a type of heroism rather than focusing on a specific purpose. Peter Berg did an amazing job as director, the cast was amazing in their performances, and the action was brutally realistic. The tone is modern and yet just as epic as the Iliad, which is hard to come by in most films today. Although the film is brutally honest there are touching aspect to the journey of four brothers that brings tears to your eyes. And while we consider these men to be our heroes, we must remember that their still just ordinary, humble people who are just doing their job. I cannot even begin to understand what they have gone through but my heart and prayers go out to the soldiers who have experienced similar or almost similar events. Highly recommended film.

"There's a storm inside of us. I've heard many team guys speak of this. A burning. A river. A drive. An unrelenting desire to push yourself harder and further than anyone could think possible. Pushing ourselves into those cold, dark corners, where the bad things live. Where the bad things fight. We wanted that fight at the highest volume. A loud fight. The loudest, coldest, darkest, most unpleasant of the unpleasant fights. You are never out of the fight."
- Marcus Luttrell [narrating] 

Final Vote
Worth Seeing:  8 of 10 stars
Worth Buying:  8 of 10 stars

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Movies Similar 
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The Alamo (2004)
American Sniper (2014)
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Black Hawk Down (2001)
Captain Phillips (2013)
Deepwater Horizon (2016)
Dunkirk (2017)
Flags of Our Fathers (2006)
Fury (2014)
The Gambler (2014)
Green Zone (2010)
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Hurt Locker (2009)
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Only The Brave (2017)
Patriots Day (2016)
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Stop-Loss (2008)
Sully (2016)
United 93 (2006)
World Trade Center (2006)
Zero Dark Thirty (2012)

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