Friday, January 31, 2014

Movie Review: Lone Survivor

Every now and again some real scoops on the course of events in Afghanistan come my way. Here is the latest, in the form of a heartfelt review of the movie Lone Survivor.
The film does the SEALs and Army SF and aviation guys justice-- it's not just a typical, Hollywood over-the-top, shoot-'em'up full of wisecracking heroes, or with violence for the sake of violence, or just a vehicle for the "Special Effect of the Week" -- it's extremely well done from the human perspective of the members of the teams and supporting folks in AFG at that time, and sticks to the facts of the incident about 90%, much closer than most "based-on-a-true-story" movies in the past 40 years, which are often share only the title of the movie as the "basis" shared with the real-life event.
I cannot recommend it highly enough, as an example of "this is the way it was" (or is) in the Afghan War, complete with SNAFUS, etc.--  an understatement.   Warning though -- the folks in the movie talk like modern US special ops soldiers when they're among themselves on a combat deployment, so there is the "F-word" factor to deal with, but other than that, there's no gratuitous cussing, or violence, and being Afghanistan, no sex, but also, thank goodness, no over-the-top villain, nor smart-aleck Rambo-esque uberHeroes, or compilation of every odd or heroic event that ever happened to a SEAL team in Afghanistan, ever, all rolled into one to make a film. In fact, far from it, and the facts of the particular mission depicted were well-documented and known by a whole lot of people at the time in Theater and back here as well.
Even though that mission (that went bad) involved some serious shootouts, the blood is "realistic" but not deliberately gory.  The firefights that occur are possibly the most realistic portrayal of modern small arms, sounds, rate of fire, usage, etc. that I've seen, very much a la Saving Private Ryan. There's few technical details that they didn't get right -- even down to the skimpy little plywood huts, dust, and constant activity etc. endemic to a forward airfield, though in order to film the events and have the viewer see what's going on, they had to alter the lighting to daylight conditions for some scenes that actually occurred at night, and in some cases had to shorten the ranges involved so that the viewer will be able to discern what was happening -- as simply filming a modern battle in progress would be unable to show the intensity of what's going on, due to the distances often involved, though this mission did, in fact, involve some very close combat.
Above all, the film captures the personalities and lives of the people involved, and is a fitting homage to our troops "over there" for the past 12 years.  It was reportedly very difficult to even get this film made, as the SEALs, Navy, and Army SF didn't want it made, as they didn't feel that Hollywood could ever do the subject and the people involved "justice" -- a la, the idiotic portrayal of the military and intelligence community in the hunt for Bin Laden as depicted in "Zero Dark Thirty", which is so utterly ludicrous, I, and virtually everyone else I know, refuse to watch it and just-as-heartily recommend AGAINST wasting your time & money to see.
However, that is not the case with this movie --  I think it really did the teams over in AFG, and their families very well, without trying to embellish or be larger-than-life, and succeeded very well in that regard.  I recommend it, especially for the Big Screen.  Of course, you can tell how good it is by the fact that the critics (which don't know crap about modern military and military-political affairs, period) and view the military with disdain, gave it only about a 70% rating, and of course, they don't like or appreciate what the "common people" like or appreciate-- there were tears in the theater when we went, mine included, as I knew some people on that operation, and have met other that were on it, and many, many others like them over the years, and have often wondered (and in some cases, later found out) which of the faces in the room wouldn't live out the coming months, so since this is, thus far, the "only" film on the war in Afghanistan worth seeing. Ya' gotta wonder why Hollywood just doesn't "get it", and hasn't even made an attempt to produce such a movie about the war in Iraq or Afghanistan in all these years.

Check it out.

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