Peter Berg recovers from the misfire that was Battleship in the absolutely incredible war film Lone Survivor. While most directors could not recover from such a failure, Berg weaves an incredible story with passion and realism. It’s been awhile since a truly fantastic war film, and Lone Survivor certainly delivers. In a dramatic and riveting thrill ride, Lone Survivor takes the audience into the brutal real life events of the 2005 SEAL Team mission to capture Ahmad Shadh.
While the names Mark Wahlberg and Taylor Kitsch are plastered all over TV commercials promoting the film, Peter Berg is the true star of the film and is truly to credit for its brilliance. This is due to something that Hollywood truly needs: passion. Berg’s passion and respect for the military is shown very clearly throughout the film, but it never becomes too patriotic or political. This is simply a man who wants to honor the courageous men and women in our armed forces, and he certainly delivers.
The writing is fantastic. Berg steers away from cheesiness completely; there are no big monologues or “Team America” moments. Instead, the military is portrayed in quite possibly its most accurate depiction since Saving Private Ryan. Every single character has a personal journey and has a suitable amount of depth, but character arcs never get in the way of the story. The dialogue is great, with many truly moving moments and a surprising amount of humor.
Mark Wahlberg stars in the single best performance of his career. While he has had his share of hits (The Departed, Boogie Nights) and misses (The Happening, Max Payne) he has never brought such a presence in a film or been this powerful. The supporting cast consisting of Taylor Kitsch, Ben Foster, Emile Hirsch, and Eric Bana also bring incredible performances that expertly adapt Berg’s script and sell the realism of the film. Each actor is so incredibly invested in their role that the audience ends up cheering for them all the way.
The film is also expertly edited, with each scene feeling intricately tied into the film and offers a plethora of great moments. The sound design is similarly wonderful, as it helps emphasize the drama of the film, as well as adding a deeper intensity. The score is majestic and beautiful, which also adds to the emotional moments of the film and make them even more moving.
Lone Survivor is possibly the best war film of the last ten years. Peter Berg tells an incredible story with a tremendous amount of respect for the military and a great sense of visuals and character. While the film can be compared to 12 Years a Slave in the sense that it is not an easy watch, it still contains moments of humor and action that complete the amazing experience. Whalberg is at his best, and it would be an absolute shame if the Academy Awards didn’t recognize Peter Berg and the tremendous effort that he made on the film. While Lone Survivor is not a film to be taken lightly, it is a required one for any fan of cinema. Grade: +A