Leon van Nierop
2 minute read
9 May 2014
11:00 am

Movie review: Lone Survivor

Leon van Nierop

A realistic war film is often a harrowing and draining experience – a test of endurance that goes beyond entertainment.

Mark Wahlberg stars in the brutal war thriller ‘Lone Survivor’. Pictures: Supplied

It becomes distressing and taxing and leaves the viewer exhausted. It also proves how important life and survival are and how one man will fight desperately and use any means to stay alive under extreme circumstances.

The main character’s suffering puts this film on a par with the intense anguish in 12 Years A Slave – although this is a battle and a level of human suffering of a different kind. So be warned, if you stumbled out of Saving Private Ryan, you will limp out of this one.

Peter Berg is well-known for his realistic and often violent films. Ignoring his recent failure, Battleship – also with Taylor Kitsch – he proved in The Kingdom (2007) that he takes no prisoners during the staging of battles and other violent scenes. He opts for the harshest possible route – and takes it further here than ever before.

In Lone Survivor, a box office hit in America, Berg tells the true story of Marcus Luttrell and his men, who were given the order to capture the notorious Taliban leader Ahmad Shah in 2005. After they released a prisoner, the victim turned against the Americans and led them into a trap that cost the lives of all the American soldiers except Luttrell, played by Mark Wahlberg. This heavily wounded soldier then had to revert to the most unimaginable strategies to escape the cruel anger of the Taliban soldiers, who hunted him like an animal. Apparently Luttrell’s actual suffering was even worse and more traumatic than what Berg shows us here.

Mark Wahlberg stars in the brutal war thriller 'Lone Survivor'. Pictures: Supplied.

Mark Wahlberg stars in the brutal war thriller ‘Lone Survivor’. Pictures: Supplied.

The film becomes a gleaming tribute to one man’s will to survive. And once you’ve seen how he endured the hunt and managed to stay alive, it will haunt many of your worst nightmares.

Berg uses extreme realistic techniques. There is one particular brutal sequence – one of the most devastating ever put on film – in which soldiers tumble down a steep hill and shatter their bones against a rock with the camera dramatically observing the bone-crushing falls.

The sound effects alone will disturb you more than you can imagine. Apparently stuntmen were injured and cracked ribs while filming these extreme scenes. You will hear every bone break and suffer the torture of these dying men in full close-up.

So beware: this is not a frivolous skop-skiet-en-donner film with patriotic music and wild, entertaining action sequences.

It will test your movie endurance.