If you’re looking to be humbled by a realistic portrayal of heroism in the face of modern warfare, then we strongly suggest that you fire up Netflix and watch Lone Survivor. Based on the 2007 non-fiction Marcus Luttrell written book of the same name, this biographical war film is a prime example of a war movie that accurately depicts the struggles that SEAL Team 10 encountered during Operation Red Wings, which took place in Afghanistan in 2005. Critics have praised this war-time movie for its realism, acting, story, and battle sequences, and the National Board of Review considered it to be one of the top ten films of 2013.
The True Story Of Operation Red Wings
Lone Survivor is a story about an ill-fated search and capture mission that took place in Afghanistan’s mountains. The story centers on the ambush that resulted in the deaths of the entire SEAL team, excluding Hospital corpsman First Class Marcus Luttrell (Mark Wahlberg), who wrote the book the film was based on.
What started out as a by-the-numbers mission in Lone Survivor goes horribly wrong after local villagers altered the Taliban of the SEAL team’s presence, which leads to an ambush. Overwhelmed, and outnumbered by the opposition’s weaponry, Luttrell’s four-man team is systematically shot down by the Taliban, leaving Luttrell alone, wounded, and vulnerable to more attacks. But with the help of a local villager named Mohammed Gulab, Luttrell is brought to safety while other villagers tip off the nearest American base to his whereabouts so he can be safely extracted from the area.
A Massive Success At The Box Office
Upon its release, Lone Survivor earned $154.8 million against its reported budget of $40 million, making it a commercial success.
Issues With The Story
Though its storytelling was praised for its realism, Lone Survivor was not without controversy on both the literary and cinematic front. One glaring issue that has been brought up about the real-life Operation Red Wings was how many Taliban troops were actually present throughout the ordeal. Luttrell stated in the book that there were 80 to 200 troops, but the official after-action report states that there were only 30 to 40 troops, and some reports claim that there were as little as 10 troops.
Another claim that Lone Survivor made was that the SEAL team debated whether they should execute the villagers they first encountered or let them go, and even put it to a vote. Military protocol, however, strictly forbids harming unarmed civilians, which leads many service personnel to believe that this part of the story was fabricated, or at the very least, exaggerated.
Lone Survivor Lauded As A Realistic Depiction
Despite these alleged creative liberties that were taken, Lone Survivor was ultimately praised for its realism. In fact, Luttrell, along with several other Navy SEAL veterans acted as technical advisors, and worked closely with writer and director Peter Berg to develop the screenplay. Aside from eyewitness accounts found in the book, Berg also relied on autopsy incident reports related to the mission.
Critically speaking, Lone Survivor garnered a 75 percent critical score against an 87 percent audience score on Rotten Tomatoes. Positive reviews praised the film for being grounded in reality while also bearing a significant emotional component that highlights the camaraderie of soldiers in the face of overwhelming adversity. The stunning visual effects were also a praiseworthy topic of discussion, and the battle sequences were choreographed in a way that realistically portrayed the events that took place during Operation Red Wings.
By the same token, Lone Survivor was also met with criticism for placing too much emphasis on the action sequences rather than character development. But at the end of the day, the film is considered by most to be a cathartic representation of what a Navy SEAL team goes through when the odds are stacked against them, and they have to think quickly, and without hesitation.
Lone Survivor Is Currently Streaming On Netflix
Lone Survivor will take you from your living room, and straight into combat with its storytelling and cinematography. And if you have a solid sound system, you’ll be pleased to know that the film received two Oscar nominations for Best Sound Editing and Best Sound Mixing. If you’re ready to be fully immersed in this tale of heroism, bravery, and overcoming an impossible situation, then Lone Survivor comes with strong recommendations, and you should stream it as soon as you get a chance.