Movie review: “Lone Survivor” intense but predictable

  • Photo courtesy of Universal Pictures
By Columbus Alive
From the January 9, 2014 edition

It’s been a year for films about survival: “Gravity,” “All Is Lost” and now the war drama “Lone Survivor.”

Director Peter Berg works from the real memoir of a Navy SEAL about a failed 2005 mission in Afghanistan where four SEALs (Mark Wahlberg, Taylor Kitsch, Emile Hirsch, Ben Foster) went after a high-profile Taliban target.

The bulk of the film depicts the action on an Afghan mountainside. Spoiler alert (I guess?): There is one American survivor.

And, even if you aren’t familiar with the story this is based on, that survivor is revealed before the opening credits (which roll over footage of actual SEAL training). From a cinematic perspective, knowing this outcome tends to lessen the intensity of the well-shot action sequences.

Still, it’s a talented cast, and I think Berg is a generally underrated director (if still hit-and-miss). “Lone Survivor” depicts the battlefield almost as a workplace, and few warriors are better at their job than Navy SEALs.

Despite my quibbles with the storytelling, war movie aficionados will find the filmmaking and acting quite solid.