We’re introduced to the team, collectively known as SEAL Team 10: sniper Marcus Luttrell (Mark Wahlberg), lieutenant Mike Murphy (Taylor Kitsch), communications expert Danny Dietz (Emile Hirsch) and sniper Matthew Axelson (Ben Foster). They have a strong bond and kill time by checking in on their girlfriends and racing each other. But they’ll soon have bigger problems than birthday gifts and whether or not to shave the loser of the footrace’s head.
The men’s hunt takes them to the mountainous region of Hindu Kush. It’s there that they’re attacked by Taliban members and there that they will have the experience that will define them. We know going in that these men will face a trying, harrowing situation that will leave most of them dead.
Despite the setting and story, LONE SURVIVOR, which is adapted from Luttrell and Patrick Robinson’s 2007 book, comes off less like a war movie than a tale of making it out alive. Because it avoids being lumped in as just another movie centered on a modern war, it also avoids being the sort of manipulative work that does more to simplify than honor (that’s not to say there isn’t some sappiness). LONE SURVIVOR is about the human body and psyche being tested to the limits in a time we’re all familiar with. There is a heavy amount of explosions and gunfire, but they’re not the focus here—nor are they a part of the movie’s key scene, in which the SEALs come across a herder and two children, which opens the debate of whether to let them go (are they innocent?) or kill them then and there (are they working with the Taliban?).
Peter Berg’s track record is spotty, but he can be a strong director when working with the right material. The new case for him (the previous was FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS) is LONE SURVIVOR, which is an effective and dramatic effort that far surpasses any expectations set by the pre-trailers featurette that plagued cinemas last year.
Bringing the Story to Light (4:44): This short piece broadly covers Peter Berg’s involvement in the movie.
Recreating the Firefight (10:27): This featurette looks at the research, location scouting, blocking and shooting of the sequence. Interviewees include Berg, Wahlberg, Luttrell, actor Emile Hirsch and more. Interesting for those who like to know how scenes are planned and executed.
Learning the Basics (6:02): Here, the main cast is seen in their required training, learning how to properly hold a gun, delivering hand signals and remain quiet while on a mission, all to be as realistic as possible.
The Fallen Heroes of Operation Red Wings (16:18) is divided into four segments, which can be viewed separately or as a whole. They are: “Michael Murphy,” “Matthew Azelson,” “Danny Dietz” and “Tribute to the Fallen Heroes of Operation Red Wings.” While the profiles aren’t as comprehensive as the one of Luttrell, they’re still nice tributes and worthwhile additions to the disc.
The Pashtun Code of Life (4:07): The actual Mohamad Gulab, the man who sheltered Luttrell, discusses his traditions and the importance of the movie in highlighting the Afghan people. As with the pieces on Murphy, Azelson and Dietz, it’s nice that the studio took time to highlight someone other than the “lone survivor.”