Written by Fourth Estate Lifestyle Reporter Andrew Davis
The war genre has come out with many gems that people still treasure today. The latest addition to this long running genre, “Lone Survivor,” is now playing at the JC Cinema. This film is a good one, using stylized violence and well-executed character development to add tension to an already haunting story.
“Lone Survivor” tells the story of a band of soldiers that is sent to Afghanistan to find and kill a ruthless war criminal known as Ahmad Shah. As the soldiers stake out the mountainside while waiting for the right moment to strike, three shepherds find them, forcing the soldiers to take them hostage. Not wanting to face the negative backlash of killing supposedly innocent people—especially since children are involved—the soldiers let them go and return to base. Little did they know that when communicating with the base proves to be difficult, one of their freed captives tells Shah what happened, causing a potential shoot out to loom over their heads.
I have never encountered violence on-screen since the film “Saving Private Ryan,” which shows realistic brutality as this film does. While it does not quite match the horrors of the D-Day scene that “Private Ryan” is known for, the fight between the American soldiers and the Taliban is still a rough sequence to watch. When the first shot is fired, the film does not let up. Bullets are flying, people are dying and the audience has no choice but to watch in horror.
The action used in this film is terrifying to watch because it captures what being on a battlefield is like. Bullets do not conveniently breeze past our heroes like they do in the “Star Wars” films. Rather, they are seen grazing across the soldiers’ skin and hitting limbs or chest cavities. By doing this, the film is able to not shy away from showing blood on-screen, making the events even more traumatic than they could have been.
By focusing on these graphic details, the film is able to capture the horrors of war well, but it is the character development that carries the characters. “Lone Survivor” does this well by taking the first 10 minutes to examine each of the four men closely instead of focusing on the star of the film, Mark Wahlberg, who plays Marcus Luttrell. By taking some time to follow the daily routines of these men and discover what they would have to lose—whether it be family or friends—the characters become more fully developed, leading the audience to empathize with them.
Just thinking about the pain that the soldiers endure during this moment will send shivers down people’s spines after seeing this film because the earlier character development creates a message, giving the audience a window into the soldiers’ lives. Then, having to sit and watch these men in pain makes one realize that their lives are being torn away from them.
“Lone Survivor” is a film that should be seen by everyone, but not for pure entertainment. There are scenes that will have the audience cringe, tense up and perhaps even break into tears due to the film’s brutality. These emotional reactions would not be possible without a well set up opening that allows the audience to get to know the characters on a personal level, carrying the story along at a brisk pace.
If you would like to see this tale of bravery and courage, visit the JC Cinema on April 26 at 6 p.m.
(Photo by Amy Rose)