2014 gets off to a mediocre start with Lone Survivor

Daniel Woodhouse

Photo courtesy of Facebook.
Photo courtesy of Facebook.

January is nobody’s favorite month in movies as it has been the traditional dumping ground for films Hollywood could care less about. Surprisingly, there have been quite a few critically acclaimed pictures that came out on this first month of the new year. Unfortunately, Lone Survivor didn’t prove to be one of them.

Lone Survivor is based on the real-life event Operation Red Wings, in which two Navy SEAL teams were wiped out, during an attempt to kill a local Taliban commander. While this might sound like an interesting movie idea, the story is flawed. The root of the problem is that the movie is solely based off the eyewitness account of the only SEAL that lived to tell the tale, Marcus Luttrell. This would normally not be too big of an issue if it wasn’t for the fact that Luttrell’s account of the events was written in the novel of the same name, while he still being treated for PTSD. The simple fact that the exact numbers of the enemy forces may have been exaggerated by Luttrell was enough to set off my skeptic alarm.

Peter Berg pulls double duty on this one, fulfilling the roles of both director and writer. Berg himself is not a consistent filmmaker as his past movies are hit-or-miss. Lone Survivor suffers from trying to be too much of an action flick rather than a drama. The characters feel underdeveloped and Berg stumbles with giving an honest portrayal of military patriotism. At least he tries though, and doesn’t use Michael Bay’s approach of blanketing the screen with cheap melodrama complete with stars and stripes. The action scenes are decent enough. They may not be as good quality as Berg’s superior The Kingdom, but at least they’re not as bad as his atrocious Battleship.

Mark Wahlberg shows a little bit more range this time around, instead of the cocky macho-man performance he typically gives. Eric Bana, Ben Foster and the rest of the cast all give good performances, but their characters don’t really feel very fleshed out. None of them get much further than the stereotypical tough guy do-whatever-it-takes persona. The film is, of course, coupled with the usual military buddy-buddy relationships, but it’s presented as a bit more honest than something cheesy, like Tony Scott’s Top Gun.

At the end of the day Lone Survivor is a decent action flick that lacks strong direction and has underdeveloped characters.

3 out of 5 stars