Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Lone Survivor (R)

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A couple weeks ago Mack and I went to yet another movie I knew nothing about. I read the brief synopsis that was written on the pass but that was it so I knew it was going to be a war movie about a true story and I knew that there would only be one survivor (hence, the title) but nothing more. I did find out prior to being allowed in to the theater that this was not going to be easy to watch. The powers that be passed around forms to anyone who had a child younger than 17 with them. They explained that a good portion of the movie would contain graphic violence and the parents would need to sign and turn in the forms. I guess they were to release the studio from any responsibility. If you’ve read any of my prior posts regarding minors allowed in this type of movie, you know that I’d like to go in to full-on rant mode here. But! I won’t. I’ll talk about the movie instead.

I keep trying to decide if Lone Survivor would be considered entertainment. I classify entertainment as a getaway from the real world. This was definitely that but not in a good way. Don’t get me wrong. I think this movie was very well made. Peter Berg is the director and I am a huge fan of his work. I was so drawn in to the film that my muscles were knotted by the time the credits rolled through. But entertaining? I don’t think so. Especially knowing that what we saw really happened. Why, then, would I recommend this movie to anyone? Because it’s just that good. And because a story like this should not be forgotten.

For those of you who don’t already know what this movie is about, it tells the story of the SEAL team that was sent in to a mountainous region behind enemy lines in Afghanistan to complete reconnaissance on terrorist Ahmad Shah and his men. The team was discovered by local shepherds and the SEALs made the decision to let them go instead of killing them. This compassion led to their demise. Apparently the enemy was not as kind.

Even though we knew from the very beginning which soldier made it out alive, I still wanted to protest as each of the others was killed. I do that sometimes. I can’t help it. It’s one thing though when the story is fiction. Each death in this film was a blow to my heart. It didn’t help any that, at the beginning, we got to see them as more than SEALs. We saw the individuals and heard about their home lives. We saw the camaraderie and competitiveness. They weren’t just blurbs in the nightly news anymore. These men were humanized for us. Would the movie have been as good without that? I really don’t think so. This made them more important to us.

Once the fighting starts, it stays tense through most of the rest of the movie. The guys got no rest. They were heavily outnumbered and though they were trained, and trained well – they’re SEALs for goodness’ sake – for combat, there were just too many bad guys. Now, my pain tolerance is somewhere in the medium range so I can’t even begin to imagine what their poor bodies went through. And yet, they plowed on. In the movie G.I. Jane, Viggo Mortensen’s character quotes the following from D.H. Lawrence: “I never saw a wild thing sorry for itself. A small bird will drop frozen dead from a bough without ever having felt sorry for itself.” That was these men! If they did feel self pity it definitely was not shown. One of the men, Lt. Michael P. Murphy, made the ultimate sacrifice. It’s shown a little differently in the movie than what I found reported on the Medal of Honor home page for Lt. Murphy but the point was made. This man put his body in harm’s way in an attempt to ensure the safety of his brothers. His death was the hardest for me.

The light at the end of the tunnel came from the Afghan man and his village. I would love to meet this man. It is one thing to have a basic belief but another still to have such a strong code of honor that you will give everything you have to protect a complete stranger knowing that it will not bode well for your future. If that doesn’t make sense to you now, go see the movie. I was absolutely horrified that, according to the movie, nothing was immediately done by the US soldiers to help the villagers. I wanted to grab hold of the young boy and the man and drag them both out of there. I completely understand why the soldiers did what they did but it didn’t make it any easier.

I feel as if I’m getting too in depth so I should probably wrap this up. All the actors were good. We even got a brief cameo by Peter Berg. The story was well told and I hope it was as close to the truth as they could possibly get. I haven’t read the book yet but I hope to do so before this film is released in January. To say that Lone Survivor is violent is understating things a bit but they kept it real. It wasn’t sensationalized in any way, shape or form. There was actually less cussing than I thought there would be. They used all the good ones but, for what they were going through, it was kept to a minimum. I’m not going to break it down any more because I don’t think young children/teens should see this. I know I don’t want my niece to see it. It’s too much for her right now. Yes, she watches scary movies but reality is a little harder to deal with. I do think she should see it at some point in her life. I think everyone should (when they’re older!!!). These men gave their lives for us. Surely we can give them 2 hours of ours.

The only reason I would go see this again when it’s released is so I can contribute to the numbers on opening weekend. It really was that hard for me to watch. Despite this, I encourage all of you to go. Just remember, you know from the title what’s going to happen. This is not really a feel good, skip on your way to the car afterward kind of movie. Mack and I sat a couple seats down from a Veteran. I didn’t realize this until he and his wife were leaving. I wanted to run up and hug him (because I’m a huggy person) and hold tight for a bit but I figured that would be a tad inappropriate. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Thank you to those of you who have served, are currently serving or have plans to do so. Your sacrifices have not gone unappreciated. You are loved and thought of and prayed for. To those of you serving overseas...come home soon.

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