Now Playing Review

Lone Survivor says it all; Mitty modest but amusing

lars logoINSPIRED – Lone Survivor opens with real training footage of Navy Seals being put through their stress tests and closes with real images and clips of Seals we recently lost in Afghanistan.

In between those painful but uplifting montages exists a dramatic recreation of Operation Red Wings, the true story of the failed 2005 mission to “capture or kill” wretched Taliban thug Ahmad Shahd.

Based on the book from the mission’s lone survivor, Marcus Luttrell, the film groups Mark Wahlberg (Luttrell), Taylor Lone survivorKitsch (Mike Murphy), Ben Foster (Matt Axelson), and Emile Hirsch (Danny Dietz) together and pits them against dramatic Taliban numbers – and even more dramatic Afghanistan terrain.

The mission becomes “compromised” once a trio of Afghan shepherds literally stumble upon the unit in the hills above their target. What to do with the “innocent,” unarmed shepherds is the moral conflict of the story.

Their decision to let them go, spearheaded by Luttrell’s conscience, ends up sealing the fate of three of the four men.

While the shepherds scamper effortlessly down the hillside to alert the bad guys, our heroes struggle to make their way back up the unforgiving surface to a secure area suitable for radio transmission back to headquarters.

“What you wanna do?” asks Dietz once they struggle up to flat land.

“Go home,” responds unit commander and renowned bad ass Murphy. “Crawl in to bed and watch Anchorman. Isn’t that the way it works? We did the right thing. Good things happen to good people…right?”

If only.

Director Peter Berg deserves huge kudos for this accomplishment. Lone Survivor is an intense, brutally graphic celebration of American war-time heroism, with four performances that should be given a special award for “hazardous workplace conditions” and stunt work that had to have left a mark.

There’s a sequence in Lone Survivor that will blow your mind. As our four heroes realize their options are limited, they leap in unison from a craggy bluff and tumble violently down the unforgiving mountain side. We, the audience, feel each thud and crash and splinter and rupture as these four men fall for what seems like two full minutes of brutal bashing. It’s a cinematic experience I will never forget.

It’s hard to put in to words how deeply connected the actors appear in these roles. Watching them struggle and battle, bond and embrace one another as it all crashes in on them is both heartbreaking and uplifting.

Heartbreaking because our warriors are always up to the task…but the good guys don’t always win.

Uplifting because the American fighting man is still the absolute best in the world, and any time spent witnessing, honoring, empathizing with, and saluting them is most surely time well spent.

_____________________________________________________________________

YEP – The ad campaign and trailer for The Secret Life of Walter Mitty led us to believe the film would be a big time adventure fantasy frolic with high wire set pieces and special fx.

Not so much.

I kept expecting the real action and adventure to kick in to high gear.

Never really took off. Unless you consider skateboarding a few miles down hill daredevil material.

But the real surprise is how effective the love story is.

Computer visual effects have come so far it’s actually becoming less and less impressive when big budget pix pull off their sleight of hand magic.

For my money, it’s more difficult to match up actors who make an engaging on-screen romance. One you actually root for.

Directed by and starring Ben Stiller, Mitty (based on the short story by James Thurber) tells the story of hum drum Walter Mitty, in charge of negative assets in the basement at Life Magazine. With the legendary rag going under, the final cover assignment photo has gone missing and Mitty’s head is on the chopping block.

Motivated by his office-place crush on Kristen Wiig, Walter decides to go in search of the missing photo and in the process he grows the set of you-know-what he desperately needed to get the girl.

Still, it’s an unremarkable film that seems half finished and easily forgotten.

One thought on “Lone Survivor says it all; Mitty modest but amusing

  1. Pingback: The Best Films of 2013 | Lars Beckerman

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