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Movie Review

Lone Survivor

MPAA Rating: R for strong bloody war violence and pervasive language.

Reviewed by: Raphael Vera
CONTRIBUTOR

Very Offensive
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults
Genre:
War Action Biography Thriller Drama
Length:
2 hr. 1 min.
Year of Release:
2013
USA Release:
December 27, 2013 (NY/LA)
January 10, 2014 (wide—2,700+ theaters)
DVD: June 3, 2014
Copyright, Universal Pictures click photos to ENLARGE Copyright, Universal Pictures Copyright, Universal Pictures Copyright, Universal Pictures Copyright, Universal Pictures Copyright, Universal Pictures Copyright, Universal Pictures Copyright, Universal Pictures Copyright, Universal Pictures Copyright, Universal Pictures
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Universal Pictures

about the real Marcus Luttrell (Navy Seal) and his Lone Survivor Foundation

bravery, courage

FEAR, Anxiety and Worry—What does the Bible say? Answer

war in the Bible

What is the Biblical perspective on war? Answer

FILM VIOLENCE—How does viewing violence in movies affect families? Answer

al-Qaeda

Taliban

terrorist / terrorism

murder in the Bible

death of friend

male bonding / friendship between men

Featuring: Mark WahlbergMarcus Luttrell
Taylor KitschMichael Murphy
Emile HirschDanny Dietz
Ben FosterMatt ’Axe’ Axelson
Yousuf Azami … Shah
Ali Suliman … Gulab
Eric BanaErik Kristensen
Alexander Ludwig … Shane Patton
more »
Director: Peter Berg——“Collateral,” “Friday Night Lights,” “Battleship
Producer: Emmett/Furla Films
Envision Entertainment Corporation
more »
Distributor: Universal Pictures

“Live to tell the story. Based on true acts of courage.”

During the opening credits we see actual footage of candidates being put through the intensive training needed to become a US Navy SEAL. Many fail, but among the few that persevere is Leading Petty Officer Marcus Luttrell (Mark Wahlberg) and this is his firsthand account of what happened during Operation Redwing.

The mission was very straight forward; the four man team headed by Michael Murphy (Taylor Kitsch) was to be inserted deep into Afghanistan close to a known Taliban compound, positively identify a leader that had recently killed 20 US marines and eliminate him. The film takes us from the beginning of that ill-fated day, through the drop, the compound approach, the events that would compromise the mission costing many US SEALs their lives, and finishing with the incredible rescue that made the telling of their story possible.

“Lone Survivor” is one of the most realistic portrayals of an actual battle I have ever seen so naturally it has content which bears warning.

Objectionable Content

Language. Extreme. The most pervasive being the “F” word at over 135 instances which at times made up a wall of curses, S*** was used much less so (15x’s), Hell, B***h and various euphemisms for genitals are used sparingly (1-2x’s each) and the Lord’s name was taken in vain twice (G**damn). The “R” rating (recommended for 17 and up) should be taken seriously for this and the violence.

Violence. Heavy. Once the fighting ensues it becomes hard to keep track of the number of Taliban fighters that are wounded and killed. The SEALs shoot many in the head and blood is often seen. Close combat with knives are realistically presented and the injuries the SEALs suffer are gut wrenching including fingers shot off, and both shrapnel and bones protruding from wounds. The cruelty of the Taliban is touched upon when they drag a villager suspected of betraying them out to a log to chop off his head (only splattering blood is shown during the hacking).

Sex/Nudity. None.

Lessons

The camaraderie that SEAL Team 10 shows one another is both inspiring and exactly what we expect from our armed forces and Marcus’ band of brothers.

“A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother” Proverbs 18:24

Determined never to leave a man behind, every SEAL is quick to pull their injured buddy to safety and just as willing to put themselves in harms way, as heroically shown, in order to give the others even the slightest chance at a rescue. Jesus describes this kind of commitment and love when he said,

“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” John 15:13

Perhaps the most surprising and meaningful scene was when Marcus, alone and in foreign hostile territory, receives help from a very unexpected source. At first distrustful of any local, he ends up being aided ‘like a neighbor’ just as Jesus instructed us to be to all men as in the parable of the Good Samaritan.

“A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead… But a Samaritan, as he travelled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds…” Luke 10:30-37

During a long fall Marcus drops his gun but when he finds it he exclaims, “God is looking out for me.” Yes, he was. Speaking in retrospect Marcus says, “I can never forget. No matter how dark it gets, no matter how far you fall, you are never out of the fight.”

“Lone Survivor” pulls the audience into the story and there are times you can almost imagine what it was like to be with them. Few war movies, even those based on actual events, manage this because they are told with ‘Hollywood’ style theatrics. Not so this film and for this reason, as well as the excessive language and violence, it is not a movie for everyone. The story of these heroes is a great one and certainly one that needed to be told, but as Christians we should not so readily subject our ‘spirit’ to such coarseness. The team’s actions reflect proudly on their legacy and I strongly recommend this be seen, but only when an edited TV version is available.

Violence: Heavy / Profanity: Extreme / Sex/Nudity: None

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.


Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive
Positive—As a 28 year army veteran, this movie is close to reality as it gets. I am grateful the makers and writer of this movie refrained from blaspheming the Lord’s name. Most soldiers realized all they can trust for ultimate protection is the Lord, and those who have been in situations close to death respect the holy name. War is ugly in any time in history but is essential in getting missions done.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Major D, age 56 (USA)
Positive—I’ve been following Marcus” story for years. I read his book. I decided to take my 19 year old son to see the film. I felt that he needed a healthy gut punch of what it looks like to be a man, fight for your brother, die for him. He loved this movie. Said it almost made him cry (which is a big deal for him). “Lone Survivor” makes a genuine effort to tell the story written in the book. This film is brutal, relentless, jarring and heart-breaking as it celebrates the men who gave their lives on that mountain.

It is terribly graphic, in a realistic form, not gratuitous and gory, but sharing what you would be able to visually take in were you there in the midst of high speed chaos. You will find yourselves rooting, holding out, for their rescue, but you know the story. It’s in the name of the film. In the end, you come to root for the humanity inside of these young men. And if you have a heart it will be broken, and built stronger.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Joe Sutphin, age 36 (USA)
Positive—I believe that “Lone Survivor” is a close second of being better then “Saving Private Ryan.” There were some key factors that were brought to my attention as I watched this movie. The language was absurd at times, I feel like they were only allowed to say f*** and s***, because in my opinion that’s most of the words they said. But they also included other words that were offensive to some viewers, but, overall, the language was non stop, it just seemed like it never ended at times.

The quality of the movie was amazing! the special effects of the explosions, Apaches crashing, and the characters wounds, all were simply stunning. The effects on the day and night situations were great also, including night vision goggles. This war movie really just had everything in it for its quality.

I really want to touch on something that some viewers may agree with me, but then most won’t. I feel like in this movie there wasn’t that much violence… let me explain… other war films and this film have to have violence, and watching this, I thought there would be more to come, but yet again I understand that this movie says that it was a 3 night process to when they actually save Marcus. But there was one thing that can really touch people just as it did to me. That the main point that the producers and filmmakers are trying to point out, is that, this movie is about that these four brothers in arms are fighting for the freedom of everyone. The fact that they actually really worked hard on that part of the movie, really got me on the edge of my seat.

This two hour movie will have your eyes open the whole time, with it’s action, non stop moving, and its shooting scenes. This movie was an “A” for me!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Anthony, age 21 (USA)
Positive—The most well-done, patriotic, and positive portrayal of our troops in recent years, Lone Survivor shines with themes of heroism and sacrifice. Yes, there is a lot of language. That being said, I highly recommend this movie for mature audiences.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—David, age 20 (USA)
Positive—Great movie! If you are sensitive to F-bombs, don’t go. But it is the best movie I’ve seen in a few years. Think, “Saving Private Ryan”-good! The movie is definitely for mature audiences. I forgot I was in a movie theater. Incredible movie! Go see it.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Michael A., age 45 (USA)
Positive—My husband and I watched this after kiddos were in bed asleep. It is disturbing and extremely edge-of-your-seat. Horrendous amounts of language, particularly the f-word, no nudity or sexual situations.

One of the most realistic movies I’ve ever seen. Mature audiences only. I’m not ashamed to admit I had tears in my eyes at the end of this one.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Laura, age 39 (USA)
Positive—Went to see this with my girlfriend and some of my other friends. My 15 year old sister had wanted to go see it, but I told her I’d go see it first, due to the R rating, and determine whether it would be OK to take her. I’d heard from people who'd been to see it before me that it was a rather slow movie with drawn out fights and very little action, so I didn’t go expecting something like “Act of Valor” or “Black Hawk Down.” Don’t listen to those people.

While there wasn’t as much action as AoV or BHD, it WAS very intense, engrossing and the story was amazing. I had no problem waiting about an hour for the action to begin. When it started, I was on the edge of my seat, and it felt like the whole theater was that way. We grunted and groaned with each other every time a character got shot, took a nasty fall or got hurt in one way or another. It was NOT a quiet theater, and it was still a full house a week after release, which surprised me. My friend actually had to go in early and reserve seats for my girlfriend and I.

This is most definitely not a family movie, due to two major reasons: Language. I myself counted one scene (about 2 minutes) with approximately 30 F-words. I lost count and missed a few, but don’t take the “pervasive language” warning lightly. There is cursing, and there’s a LOT of it.

Violence. While it’s not over the top, disgusting, gross or any of that, it is there and it’s BRUTAL. It really shows the horror of war and what the human body can go through before it breaks. The way it’s depicted in “Lone Survivor” left with a gut-wrenching feeling for each character as they got shot, took nasty falls and ran down the mountain. It’s not a pretty movie at all. Like I said, the entire theater was moaning and groaning through the entire battle.

Final consensus: It’s a brilliant movie, one of the best military movies I’ve seen to date. I’d gladly go see it again if I had the money. Just don’t take the family with you when you go to see it.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Fyzix, age 18 (USA)
Positive—This movie is excellent in all aspects. The quality and acting are remarkable. I did not find the movie offensive in either the vulgarity or violence, because those aspects are real in a soldier’s life and brings to the forefront what they actually experience. To say it should not be seen unless it is edited is to say that “The Passion of Christ” should not be seen unless it is edited. This is truth, it is reality, it is something people should know about because it is the brave and courageous actions of these soldiers that allows us the liberties we so enjoy, such as the ability to watch this movie or openly study our faith.


The moral value in the movie is also noteworthy because, aside from the vulgarity, the overriding theme is brotherhood, loyalty, honor, courage—John 15:13! There are no negatives to this movie, it is a must see.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Michele, age 38 (USA)
Positive—No sex, no nudity. Too many “F” bombs too count, however, if I was a soldier and was being shot at and about to die, I’d be cussing too. This is a movie that is not for the faint of heart, but it is a great film on something that really happened.

The book is way, way better. It goes into more detail, and the author made you feel like you were right there with the Seals fighting the Taliban. The movie does a good job portraying the outnumbered fight of these men fighting for their lives.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Jane, age 54 (USA)
Positive—“Lone Survivor” doesn’t pull any punches. It shows the true nature of SOF loyalty, honor and brotherhood. The movie does a great job of trying to reflect this ethos. Sometimes trying to explain this to civilians is utterly futile, namely because military brotherhood is a unique experience.

The movie shows both the ugliness of war and the necessity of it. War is not won by choir boys; it’s won by those who have the mental capacity to fight under horrible conditions and under intense mental stress. That’s why less than 10% make the teams. Not everyone could hack what Marcus and his team had to endure.

Though the movie shows the raw part of life, outside our churches we experience raw life anyway. This shouldn’t scare us. Sometimes seeing the effects of war and loss on screen can give us a greater appreciation for those who are still down range. They need our prayers, and their families need our comfort. To all my brothers still down range, keep your head down, your head on a swivel and your finger at the ready.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Thomas Marshall, age 43 (USA)
Positive—“Lone Survivor” is one of those movies that makes you realize what sacrifice is. I think to myself that these great men died for our country so we can go to sleep safe at night, but it also makes you think about the ultimate sacrifice Christ made for us. It is a powerful movie that every American should see.

People that complain about the language and violence I think are funny. Peter Burg (Director) tried to make this as realistic as possible, and the F bomb and blood is reality; I think you need to see this movie the way it was intended because when someone gets shot and says “beeswax” it won’t be the same effect as the real word. The full experience is what you need to see in order to understand what these men did for us…
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 5
—AJ, age 18 (USA)
Neutral
Neutral—This is a very good movie, however there are F bombs everywhere, more then 50, it got a little annoying even when they were in a stressful situation. The movie was very inspiring, and crazy what they went through, but definitely some SERIOUS gore, blood, murder, shootings, violence… the most gore I have seen in a movie. I had to shut my eyes when they jumped off the cliffs, the damage to their body was not watchable for me. All of them by the end were covered in blood and beat up really bad, as they were running and fighting for their lives.

I was truly inspired by their will to survive and what they went through but it was intense. I am glad I watched it, just brace yourself for the violence and the cursing, that is why I had to give it a neutral.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Stephanie, age 39 (USA)
Positive—Having read about the extreme violence and language in this film, I was reluctant to watch it, initially. However, after reading elsewhere about how accurately it depicts true wartime experiences, I decided to give it a shot, in order to better appreciate our military. I was not disappointed. The film is indeed brutal, with every injury bone-crunchingly realistic, and the f-words zipping about like additional bullets in every scene.

However, this movie changed my perception of soldiers; I have much more admiration for their incredible bravery and camaraderie in the face of the horrors that they witness, the “would you rather” decisions, and the suffering they endure.

On a side note, I especially enjoyed the fact that the movie did not paint all Muslims with one brush. While most were Taliban and tried to kill the four US soldiers, one man and his village risked their own lives to help foreign strangers. It’s nice to see a more even, human depiction of Muslims.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Christina, age 21 (USA)

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