Lone Survivor dramatizes the story of Operation Red Wings, a joint military op in 2005, during the war in Afghanistan. The film’s about a four-man SEAL team tasked with tracking and capturing a Taliban leader, a man called Ahmad Shah. When they stumble upon three Afghan shepherds, two of them not even men yet, the team’s presented with an impossible dilemma: letting the shepherds go and risking exposure, tying the trio down and leaving them in the woods, or eliminating the risk entirely. This decision is at Lone Survivor‘s core, and after it’s made the movie gets truly harrowing.
Peter Berg’s movie is brutal from this moment on, showing the repercussions of the team’s choice and the insanity of the operation and military ops in general. It poses difficult but relevant questions regarding the war in Afghanistan, questions we may not have the answers to. Is it ethical to send men and women into situations like these when there are so many unpredictable elements in play? What exactly is the value of operations like these to the Afghani? Do outsiders even understand what exactly is going on in this country and is there even a role for them to play in striving for stability? Much like Berg’s other film The Kingdom the substance comes packed in a solid action/war movie, one which doesn’t ask any of these questions out loud or tries to point its audience in a certain direction. It’s up to the viewer to think about what’s on display, which is why both The Kingdom and Lone Survivor are open to various interpretations which sometimes couldn’t be more different.
Lone Survivor is a well-made, well-acted and well-directed film, but most of all it packs a punch. It’s a brave movie that dares to question the course of action, but at the same pays tribute to the brave men and women who die fighting wars. 8/10