Saturday, November 12, 2016

Lone Survivor

Year 8, Day 316 - 11/11/16 - Movie #2,486

BEFORE: Mark Wahlberg carries over again from "Ted 2", and I'm using that to pivot to action films, and this one in particular for Veterans Day. After this, I've got four more films in my November chain, then I'll be on break again for a month, until the release of "Rogue One"on December 16, then I'll have to get 9 more films watched before Christmas.  Really, the end of the year will be here before we know it, and I can't wait.  Bring on the holiday spirit, I really need some. 

THE PLOT: Marcus Luttrell and his team set out on a mission to capture or kill notorious Taliban leader Ahmad Shah, in late June 2005, but are left to fight for their lives in one of the most valiant efforts of modern warfare.

AFTER: This may be an important film to watch, but it was a tough one for me to get through.  The face that it's based on a true story doesn't help the fact that the title totally gives away the ending, and also reveals the fate of Luttrell's fellow soldiers.  So, we all know what's coming, and it's so drawn out, at some point it began to resemble some form of war injury porn.  

Of course, Hollywood war films are great at glamorizing war, and making sure that soldiers who die on screen do so heroically, and with good intentions - but considering how many soldiers can die in a conflict, deep down we know that can't always be true.  So a film that doesn't put a positive spin on soldiers being shot, showing them injured again and again as they tumble down a mountain to try and escape Taliban forces, it should feel a little honest and refreshing, but it doesn't, it's just dark and depressing. 

I'm not even interested in discussing the futility of war, especially in Afghanistan, because it's such a hot-button issue that's been co-opted by both sides, and I've had enough of partisan politics to last for five election cycles.  (Go ahead, explain to me again how Afghanistan is Obama's fault, when Bush Jr. + Cheney started the war there....)  Enough, already.  Somehow our forces have been there too long, but at the same time, we withdrew too soon and created ISIS.  None of it makes any sense.  Afghanistan has been at war, in one form or another, since 1978, did we really think our 14-year presence would change anything there?  

But anyway, by focusing on the actions of a four-man SEAL team, the film focuses on a small story to try and tell the bigger one.  This unit is sent to take out a Taliban leader, but when they realize Ahmad Shah is too well-protected by troops, they attempt to abandon the mission, but a couple of goat-herders stumble on their position, and then the entire mission is compromised, and faced with the difficult decision over killing or releasing the herders, before trying to contact their base for extraction.  

Without giving anything away (that can't be determined from the film's title), Luttrell is the only team member who makes it, he's taken in by Afghan villagers who stand up to the Taliban because of their own code of honor, and they're able to keep him safe until they can make contact with the U.S. base.  But I want to stress again that while I didn't find the film very entertaining, I recognize its importance. The film opens with footage of Navy SEAL training, and those soldiers endure the harshest possible conditions for a reason, because they never know what they'll encounter during combat or capture.  And the best tribute to them I can give is acknowledging that I'd probably flunk that training on Day 1.  Heck, I'd probably quit after 10 minutes.    

Also starring Taylor Kitsch (last seen in "Snakes on a Plane"), Emile Hirsch (last seen in "Taking Woodstock"), Ben Foster (last seen in "Hostage"), Eric Bana (last seen in "Troy"), Alexander Ludwig (last seen in "Grown Ups 2"), Rich Ting, Jerry Ferrara (last seen in "Last Vegas"), Dan Bilzerian, Yousuf Azami, Ali Suliman, with a cameo from Peter Berg.

RATING: 5 out of 10 Apache helicopters

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