Lone Survivor (2013)
Live to Tell the Story.
Well, the name is kind of a spoiler in it's own right, but it's been a while since a military style flick has shown up in my queue of viewing. Considering it's 'based on a true story' tag, what's going to happen here is a good deal of authenticity with some bad events over in the heated world of Taliban-filled territory. It's certainly a familiar war story to those who like the genre, but it never claims to be anything more than what it is. Will this band of brothers be cause to add to the collection, or would you rather leave the rifle on the shelf?
We start our adventure with an introduction to some condition training showing off the hardships and how hardcore the Navy Seals are. Next up is the "Based on a true story" panel, and then we get rolling. Our story starts off where many movies tend to start it seems - the end. A very injured soldier is being rushed air-lift style into a base medical center in a hurry, while his voice narrates a bit about the way of things. It appears that our title may be trying to lie to us, as our main character is flatlining as his narration ends. Seems as proper a time as any to throw a flashback of when it all started, 3 days ago.
We get introduced to the squad we will be following, showing us glimpses into their normal civilian lives. Wives and children, horses and drawings, conversations and friendly challenges, doing the things that real people do. The fun has to come to an end eventually though, and a mission rolls up to see to that. A couple of Taliban baddies - as we are shown through cut-ins as they discuss the mission - have been spotted out in a village, and a four man team is gonna need to go in to confirm the intel's authenticity so the next phase can proceed. Somebuddy is gonna me made to face the extreme and terrible things they've done, and it's the Seals and Marines job to make sure it happen - and in case something goes wrong they have two apache attack choppers and some extraction blackhawks on standby at the forward base to pull our guys out. The mission starts out with clean precision and quick progress.
When the ground-team spots the target, however, they also find he has an entire army around him in the town. Things get worse when a group of taliban-supporters stumble across the squad as they are taking up a sneaky residence to launch their next move. This prompts a call of releasing the now "prisoner" supporters on moral grounds, initiating the fallback and extraction from the mission. As if all of this wasn't bad enough, the squad can't get signal on their radio equipment, and is now going to have to foot it back to base or a better location where the radio works to signal for extraction - a task that just got made harder when the Taliban catches up to them. Now in a desperate fight for their lives, we would normally be prompted to wonder if anyone would make it out alive - if we weren't already shown that only one of these fine men will make it back to base in any kind of shape.
I'm not a huge fan of any time a movie starts off with something from the end - the journey to get back there is still good, but you end up knowing what the eventual outcome is going to be, so it feels as though it can cheapen the story around the one (or more) character(s) who are shown. That being said, the tension the movie manages to keep up is impressive for having given up at least part of its ending, and the sheer number of things that go wrong for the squad really does make it seem to be a cursed mission.
Effects are handled well - this isn't the kind of movie that tries to go over the top with it's violence (such as one would find in say 2008's Rambo). It's quick, it's efficient, and yet suitably brutal for the moments that it's called for (again, nowhere near as viciously brutal as zombie flicks for example). Although it isn't over the top in presentation, it is still however very painful looking, and by far this movie has probably made me more aware of "that has got to hurt" more than most other movies, particularly when a character has already taken so many hits and injuries and still toughs it out to keep going.
Actors do a good job here, even on the Taliban and native tribe's side of things. Military lingo gets presented well, and you get the impression that the squad is a team of people who would hang out outside of duty with their families and have some barbecues and the likes. A large portion of the local dialogue isn't subtitled - which I believe is to help with immersion of the movie, as the only times you tend to get that subtitling is when no Americans are around. Less to do with acting but still on even grounds for delivering some form of emotional impact, if the slideshow at the end doesn't stir some sort of emotion in you you might be a little dead inside.
If your a fan of military flicks, this one should be a pretty solid watch. Pacing, acting, and action are all pretty sound, so it might be attractive to watch for others as well. Action is pretty violent (yet not exaggerated) and there's some cussing floating around (wouldn't be the military action movie if it didn't), so those should be the only real detractors to drive people away from watching. I'm led to believe that (due to the slideshow support) in this case the movie is actually based on true events, although I also wouldn't be too surprised to be told there was some movie-based embellishments to "spice things up." So there you have it, a pretty worthwhile watch.