Review: Lone Survivor


Based on a true mission during the war in Afghanistan back in the summer of 2005. The director of ‘Battleship’ – Peter Berg, a former actor has again proven his filmmaking talent to us and has largely progressed his storytelling to a very solid place in the war film circle and in the eyes of the male audience. “Lone Survivor” is a sincere and heartfelt brotherhood movie, mentally and physically hard to watch sometimes, and not just for male audience to appreciate.


Whether we like to believe that love can do better than war, or if we choose to be indifferent to the war in the Afghanistan while living our lives safely and in satisfaction of all kinds, there is somehow a reason for which these soldiers are risking their lives. “Lone Survivor” is a rare piece of work for people like you and me, or for people who want to join the army, to understand what today’s war is like and a soldiers everyday life in maintaining world peace.


The film starts with a montage of a Navy SEALs bootcamp training under almost inhuman conditions. Whoever survives the training becomes the toughest, practically unbreakable, soldier of all soldiers.  A Black Hawk helicopter flies towards us over a stunningly beautiful Afghanistan landscape, carrying a severely injured soldier back to the air base. In the medical emergency room, a pair of heart defibrillator shocks him time after time until we hear, vaguely, a tiny rhythm of heart beat.


Just 3 days earlier at Bagram Air Base, a soothing tune hums through a tranquil morning while all the helicopters are on the ground, everyone is still asleep in their rooms, their pictures on the wall, a chat of a promising future, a message exchange between a soldier and his wife, a brotherly running race and a breakfast full of laughter. Peter Berg uses a short but consistent 5 minutes to tell the personality of these four men about to be sent to this unexpected and deadly mission.

While the Operation Red Wings’ meeting is on, a Taliban village attack is going on. In the meeting, the 4-men team briefs the operation to the rest of the troop. The target is a criminal Taliban leader, no medicine aid during the operation and the region is too steep to have a proper communication, except a satellite phone to be used in emergency from an uncovered mountain peak. All possible obstacles and issues are pointed out and how the base should react if the team misses two communication windows.  Again, Peter Berg has smartly planned everything for the upcoming long and very painful battle they are about to encounter.


Operation Red Wings in 2005 failed massively. A team of 4 men was sent to Sawtalo Sar mountain side to snipe a group of local Talibans menacing the valley villages. While the 4-men team awaits night fall on the mountain, an old shepherd, a teen and a young boy accidentally unveils the hidden team while walking their goats. The team has to let the shepherds go due to the Geneva Conventions protocol to prevent any civilian casualty, which leads to the local Taliban troop chasing them all over the rocky mountain. When the Operation commander and the rest of the Navy SEALs troop speedily fly a couple of Chinook helicopters to their rescue, without escort of any attack capacity Apache helicopter which is against the US military protocols, the commander’s Chinook helicopter is brutally shot down by a Taliban rocket, which leads to 16 more soldiers losing their lives.


“Lone Survivor” book writer Marcus Luttrell – the only survivor of the entire operation – is played by Mark Wahlberg. The rest of the 4-men team are played by Taylor Kitsch, Emile Hirsch, Ben Foster, and the commander is played by Eric Bana. The end of the film seems to be very unbelievable but is true, since years later Luttrell was reunited with his savior Mohammad Gulab Khan from the village that the local Taliban often attacked. Gulab and the rest of the people from the village are still fighting daily against the Taliban menace.

– Shumaï Chou