Lone Survivor is a movie about a team of Navy SEALs who are sent on a mission to secretly observe Ahmad Shah, a Taliban leader, through technological devices and eventually annihilate him. Throughout the film, Marcus Luttrell is seeking meaning through living a normal life with the person he loves and wrestling with his role as a Navy SEAL who is in the unforgiveable territory of Afghanistan.
In the first several scenes, Director Mark Wahlberg throws the audience fast cuts of soldiers working out, from pull-ups and chin-ups to push-ups. He also provides the audience with close-ups of Navy SEALs crying. In the first few lines of his dialogue, Luttrell shared his story by telling how being a Navy SEAL was pushing past the impossible so you had more of a chance for survival.
In one of the first images the audience sees of him, Wahlberg gives the audience a long shot of his whole room where he is unable to sleep. The wall is mostly empty, except for an American flag pinned on the back wall. He hears his computer ding and it is his fiance online, asking if he is awake. It is like she is there as a light for him, even in his darkest moments, such as later on when he and his team members battle for their lives and it takes their remaining strength after Taliban fighters shoot them.
Throughout parts of the film, Wahlberg focused on the sun coming into the soldiers’ eyes as a foreshadowing and a symbol that they are blinded by what is really happening. Ultimately the group discovers an army is being built and the audience may infer the soldiers have walked right into a trap. Since it happens during the day, the Navy SEALs are also exposed to potential sight from the army they are spying on.
While they wait for a right opportunity, goat herds stumble across them and the Navy SEALs chase them down. It brought to my mind a scene from earlier when the leader beheads an innocent man suspected of feeding information, of coincidences and real people. For the shepherds, bringing their flock to that particular place in the forest may have been a regular thing, but it took only one time for them to walk into danger. It also ousts the Navy SEALs into a precarious position since they could not release the shepherds, but they could not keep them around either.
While they called the man in charge, they could not get a hold of him because of a lost signal. After much debate, Luttrell convinces his team members they should release the goat herders or they will receive backlash. But events escalate out of control from there and trap the Navy SEALs. The intense firing of guns predict that all hope is lost for any escape.
In brief conclusion, Lone Survivor builds the suspense up well, but it does not deliver much more promise than the scenes that drag on and focus on Luttrell’s failing strength through close-ups from his bloodied face and the natural sound effects from the nature around him. The film, however, does portray the hardship of what the military endures when they run into a tight spot and exposes the grief and loss they go through. The wedding photographs at the end of the film captured emotion on Luttrell’s face and, while not explicitly shown, the audience can infer the agony of figuring out how to move on.
The film leaves it up to the audience to decide how to feel, and it can have either a powerful effect or an apathetic feeling. It is all in what you appreciate about the film.