Director Peter Berg delivers a fresh take on the war genre, with a great retelling of a failed mission known as Operation Red Wings in 2005 . Instead of huge set pieces and large-scale action as most war movies tend to have, "Lone Survivor" (2014) instead takes you up-close and personal, following four Navy SEALS deep in the mountains of Afghanistan. Marcus Luttrell (Mark Wahlberg) and his three friends are stuck with no radio signal while tracking an important Taliban leader. Eventually the four of them run into a local shepherd and two young boys. and must decide of how to deal with them. Marcus and his comrades Michael (Taylor Kitsch), Danny (Emile Hirsch), and Matt (Ben Foster) fear they may alert the Taliban in the area if set free. There is no simple solution, and it is one that ends up coming back to haunt them.
Almost a third of the movie is spent introducing the characters as the film attempts to show what it is like during down time as a SEAL. A nice montage in the beginning shows the type of training they go through, and each character is introduced as they talk with their loved ones back home and joke around camp. Matt chats with his girlfriend online, while Danny decides on a wall color for his home. Although slightly generic and bland, the simple back stories to each of the soldiers makes them more real, and ultimately makes the upcoming action all the more brutal.
Once the firefights start, it is obvious this is not a typical war movie. There is controlled chaos with soldiers flanking for each other, calling out signals and director Peter Berg makes it easy to follow everything going on in the battle field. The grounded reality of the movie makes each fired shot powerful as bullets hiss by and ricochet off rocks. The desperation can be felt as the group of four is bombarded with bullets, grenades, and rocket launchers while they try to push through the mountains. They rush through the forest making their way desperately through the harsh terrain, tripping and tumbling down hillsides. "Lone Soldiers" attempts to show the heart of these SEALS and their heroic efforts to save each other, even when riddled in bullets. Firefights are gruesome and hold nothing back, depicting the hellish situation they were in.
Mark Wahlberg impresses as Marcus, and carries the movie towards the end. The supporting actors also do a fine job, even if they don't get as much screen time. In the final third of the movie the action slows down but wraps up nicely. Berg moves the story along smoothly and keeps it tense throughout until the final resolution. Although slightly preachy and overly patriotic at some points, "Lone Survivor" is a well polished film with relentless, brutal action. It gets lost between a movie trying to deliver a message and a straight up war thriller, but it is entertaining and enjoyable, and ultimately a afresh and interesting take on the war genre.