Sunday, 16 February 2014

Blood and Tears - Lone Survivor review

This post does contain a few spoilers, so if you don't want the movie ruined before you see it, then scroll down to the bottom of the article for the podcast, where there is no spoilers.

The one thing that frustrates me about Lone Survivor is, as it tends to be, the story. Based on the real life Operation Red Wings mission that the Navy SEALs set out on in 2005, we know right from the onset that only one of them survives, and, because he's on all the movie posters, we know its going to be Mark Walhberg. So the story surely is, how does he survive?

This film is massively on the side of the Navy SEALs, made to highlight the life threatening work. This is no surprise. Everyone knows there is death in war, and in order to build sympathy and allegiance towards a character in a war movie it is pivotal that you highlight the death aspect. This can be done by highlighting the massive death tolls of wars, the dignified/undignified way people die in war, deaths of loved ones, enemies, and all the constant threat of death over the protagonist. Lone Survivor employs all of these aspects, and includes a half an hour scene of wear both Navy SEALs and the Taliban are shot, with every bone shatter and blood splatter intact, killed and mangled. A helicopter full of Navy SEALs is blown up in a quick and sudden scene. A village full of innocent Afganistanis are terrorised and killed by the Taliban and Americans.

And through all of this, you know Wahlberg's character, Marcus Luttrell, will survive, because he went onto write the book the film is based on.

The actual SEALs of Operation Red Wing. From left to right: Matthew Axelson, Daniel R. Healy, James Suh, Marcus Luttrell, Eric S. Patton and Micheal P. Murphy

 So, how does he survive when there is so much against him? It is the innocent Afganistanis in the village with their code of honour Pashtunwali that save him. This part of the film runs for about fifteen minutes, and most of that is taken up with the Taliban trying to kill him and the Americans shooting up the place. Luttrell gets rescued by the Americans and you know he lives, despite them showing his heart stop, and then there's an extended dedication scene to the men from Operation Red Wings for actually died, and then a subtext explaining the Pashtunwali, because, you know, not all Afganistanis are bad.

The problem I feel with this film is that it expects the audience to be only interested in the bloody action of war. Far too often we see men and women killed in action memorialised on the news, as well as reports of 'civilian casualties'. It is a sad truth that we expect this to happen nowadays, and although it is not the millions that died during the two world wars, the fact that we respect every single person that lost their lives to war shows just how much respect we have for humanity and contempt for war.

So when I see a film where an American Navy SEAL is saved by his perceived threat, I want to know exactly how they helped him. While they do give you some details, this film rushes through it. Me personally, I was left frustrated. They spend far too long showing you how he became the 'lone' member, but not nearly enough time showing you how he survived. In a world where this war seems pointless to many, a story that shows positives from both sides of the parties should be encouraged. Instead, we are shown more blood and needless death.

Listen to our podcast review of Lone Survivor in the player below, or subscribe to us in iTunes. If you've seen the film, let us know what you thought of it.


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