Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Lone Survivor (2013)

This film was made by Peter Berg, the same guy who made 'Battleship'!...well I guess that explains the casting of Taylor Kitsch again. Man talk about not learning lessons, Kitsch was the only guy in this film that genuinely didn't fit the bill, next to Wahlberg and Foster it is clear.

This film is based on a real event back in 2005 when the US managed to get some of their military killed...yet again. Four SEAL's are dropped into enemy territory in Afghanistan for surveillance and reconnaissance but are soon discovered by local goat herders. After releasing them the heat is on as the team must evac asap before the Taliban come after them, sure enough they do.

The beginning of the film is very interesting as it shows real footage of real men going through hell to try and become SEAL's. From there on we do get some time to get to know the team that will be our guide through this ordeal, not a lot of time mind you but its enough. There isn't much hanging around as the film moves quickly into the main crux of the film, before you know it we're sneaking around the rocky bush in a mountainous region of Afghanistan.

I'm not gonna sweet talk it but this film is all about the long fightfire between the SEAL's and the Taliban after their mission was compromised. There isn't much else to the film other than that, but what you see is damn intense. At first the small team have everything under control taking down the enemy calmly and smoothly and it makes you feel at ease, it feels like a cool action flick. But bit by bit the team become more and more overrun and seem to be becoming outnumbered as the fight continues. The men are forced to move from spot to spot desperately trying to find good cover to return solid fire and the intensity of the action becomes greater and greater. You are on the edge of your seat the whole time this fight rages on, you know from fact that only one will survive and you know who, but it doesn't detract from the immensely harrowing fight for survival taking place before your eyes, its relentless.

This firefight must be one of the top 'action' sequences I have seen for some years and the fact its based on reality drills it home hard. Seeing these four guys slowly getting battered, bruised, shot and exhausted by the continuous siege of the enemy is sobering to say the least. What really hits you is the decisions they had to make to carry on, the fact they had to jump down cliff faces as they were pushed back. When watching these sequences I did find myself wondering if the film wasn't embellishing on the truth somewhat (only the remaining survivor can really say), its possible but apparently not. The same could be said about each of the SEAL's getting shot various times, it did seem a bit too Hollywood to me, how could these guys be getting shot over and over and still be carrying on? I have since read the wounds on the SEAL's shown were gotten from medical records and are precise!

As the story gets deeper we then see how a US MH-47 chopper is blasted out of the sky by an RPG! Again this is based on reality and happened but you couldn't have scripted it better if you think about it. A terrible set of events but it makes for a thrilling film no doubt and you gotta give Berg and his cast kudos for bringing it across for all to see. I was impressed by both Wahlberg's and Foster's performances here, not just because they are the big names on campus but the clear determination on their faces to bring the horror and realism of the situation to the surface whilst truly honouring the men they portrayed.

It does of course feel very patriot as you would expect with a US military flick and the focus is more on the action in the main battle rather than the characters. One let down of the film being the entire fictional Hollywood finale which wasn't required at all, but rather shows us that all Hollywood is concerned about is the bloodshed and violence in the event and adding more just in case. The whole thing does feel like war porn, just seeing these guys shot to bits slowly in a fracas that got out of hand quickly and the US lost, this kind of thing has probably happened many times and we'll never know. The US seem to be very good at messing up their military ops and then making courageous patriotic films about them, cynically saying that is.

Never the less the film is a hard hitting visual and audio spectacle that does manage to convey to us what happened with the majority of the film being truthful. I know it sounds cliched but this is easily 2013's 'Black Hawk Down'. So Mr Berg there you have it, you have found your niche, less 'Battleship' crapola, less Taylor Kitsch and more films like this.