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I was a combat soldier in the Vietnam conflict. The first thing that
comes to my mind watching this film was the equipment used by modern
soldiers. In Vietnam we had the clothes on our back, just underwear and
shirt, pants, boots, and our weapon. Some soldiers wore "flack vests"
but where I served with a small unit in the jungles of the south, I
never saw that. It was just your weapon and the clothes on your back.
As to the story, it raises from the very beginning all sorts of moral
questions. The film opens with actual footage of the over the top
training and stress imposed on elite fighting units such as the Navy
Seals. We see signs right from the beginning of the film that such
severe and brutal training regimens set up a trauma and stress
situation inside the emotions and lives of soldiers. There is a
critical point in the film where the choice to kill "innocent" people
or not to kill them changes everything that happens later. A lot of
people will argue about what the choice should have been, and how it
might have changed the soldiers chances of survival. That moment is a
key to understanding what comes after in the film.
Field Command Incompetence. Another issue defined, if not focused upon
directly, is how often the field command, Colonels and up, what are
called "field" officers, seem to be incompetent, arrogant and often
ineffective. Recent published studies of the history of military
service of American Generals, for example, show us that the field
commanders of armies on the ground is often a tragic disaster.
Emotions. Like many who watched this film, I found the long combat
sequence very riveting and yet repulsive, in that they are hard to
watch. There are several sequences that caused me to have a strong
emotional reaction and I had a lot of tears on my face by the time it
was over. There is a point in the film where we see a photo of the
soldier who survived (Whalberg's character) with the Afghanistan man
who gave him "hospitality" and saved his life at a great cost to his
village. It is very well acted by an very talented Middle eastern
actor. It is very easy in this film to become angry about the bad
people that are represented by the Taliban fighters. It is easy,
honestly, to just become very angry about all Muslims everywhere in a
film like this. Suddenly, right in the middle of this intensity of
revulsion towards "terrorists" there is an incredible emergence of
human dignity, beauty, that lifts the film upwards, that changes the
whole narrative of the film from soldiers captured inside a desperate
fight to stay alive, toward the greatest attributes of human society;
that of respect and refuge, of personal honor and dignity even in the
face of the most terrible events.
The film was executive produced by Whalberg, who also stars as the
"Lone Survivor", and you can see in his performance and from the
credits that roll at the end of the film, that he was very invested in
this story. While it is a sort of "classic" Hollywood soldier story,
the film has many surprises. It is incredibly effective at showing us,
using dramatic events, the stress and trauma a modern soldier fighting
the "war on terror" endures over a short period of time in their lives,
one that leads to suicides and many other problems for our returning
veterans; not to mention the villages and lives changed forever in
Afghanistan and the other locations where this kind of warfare
continues to this day. I think this film does a much better job at
showing this dangerous stress than most other films; but this also
makes the film hard to watch. This is a very mature film, very violent.
The violence is showed inside of an honest context, but viewers should
be prepared for a highly emotional and violent film experience.
Tags for Lone Survivor Full Movie
, Emile Hirsch
, Mark Wahlberg
, Taylor Kitsch
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