Universal via Everett Collection
Lone Survivor isn't a film for the faint of heart. It's a film that beats you down and only lets you up for a few precious moments before the credits roll, but that emotional throttling is what helps make the film such a powerful experience.
Peter Berg's Lone Survivor tells the story of Operation Red Wings, primarily focusing on a group of four Navy SEALs who are sent to the mountains of Afganistan to capture or kill a member of the Taliban. The plan goes wrong, and the team has to fight for their lives to escape the enemy-infested area. The film does a marvelous job of ratcheting up the tension before collapsing into its main action sequence, one that is as thrilling as it is unsettling. The long sequence brings forth memories of the infamous D-Day opening of Saving Private Ryan, except this film's fire-fight stretches out the violence like a medieval torture device. The langourous scene is, at times, hard to sit through. Each moment slips by in coiled tension. It's undoubtedly uncomfortable, and the film makes a point to never make the violence fun or enticing. The action isn't consequence-free, and every bullet fired carries weight, making the scenes brutal and unrelenting because of it. The film takes on the aura of a horror movie that wants you to feel every second that ticks by, and director Berg makes sure that a pressing hopelessness starts to weigh on the viewer just as it does on the soldiers.
Mark Wahlberg is plenty capable as Marcus Lutrell, a member of the SEAL unit that is sent on the mission. The supporting cast plays its parts admirably by believably infusing a diverse set of personalities and values into the soldiers, while still keeping them in tune with the same military culture that governs much of their thoughts and actions. There's a great scene where a difficult decision has to be made, and the viewer gets to see the different directions to which some of the character's moral compasses are tuned. Sometimes the right thing can mean different things to different people when the risk of death is on the table. The real standout in the cast is Ben Foster, whose SO2 Matthew Alexson swirls with barely contained fury. He is darkly intense and has electric screen presence that really starts to manifest when the bullets star flying and things become dire.
Universal via Everett Collection
For all the good will that the film builds up in its first and second act, the final third of the film hits some snags as history demands that the story take itself to a different location, sacrificing some of the tension that it has built up. In the last 30 minutes of the film, there are some odd tonal choices that don't gel with the tension brimming in the first half. A comedic scene involving a language barrier stands out in particular.
The movie makes a point to steer clear of any political judgment, and it doesn't try to lay blame for the botched mission on any one head. And while the film never outwardly states and opinion on the conflicts that America found itself embroiled in during this time period, the searing brutality depicted in the movie highlight that no one should be subjected to the pain that these men were faced with. Made abundantly clear is the soldiers' willingness to drop everything and serve their country the best way they know how. Lone Survivor tries to honor the soldier, but not glorify war.
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Lone Survivor is at its best when it makes you feel the worst. It gives soldiers their due reverence by showcasing the true terror of the battlefield, and while the film does start to sag a bit in its third act, it's still more than worth the experience in order understand the consequences of war, and its toll on the people in the trenches.
Paul McCartney will perform songs from his new album Driving Rain at a concert in Oslo this week to mark the 100th anniversary of the Nobel Peace Prize, Reuters reports. U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and the United Nations, this year's Peace Prize recipients, will receive the award at a ceremony in Oslo on Monday. Other performers will include Wyclef Jean, Nathalie Imbruglia and Destiny's Child.
Sony Screen Gems is asking fans to design the official poster for the upcoming movie Resident Evil--based on the popular video game of the same name--starring Milla Jovovich and Michelle Rodriguez. According to Sony, contestants will be allowed to submit up to three poster designs online from Dec. 6 through Dec. 31. Movie stills, title treatments and the billing block will be posted online at the official Resident Evil website, resident-evil-the-movie.com, which will provide links that will enable contestants to build their poster electronically. Five semi-finalists will be chosen in January and their artwork will be displayed online, where the Internet audience will vote for the winner. The winner will be announced mid-January and will receive a cash prize, a free screening in their hometown for 100 guests and a commemorative copy of the winning poster.
Elizabeth Hurley called police after being harassed by a man outside an address in Kensington, West London, Sky News reports. A spokesperson for Scotland Yard said the 32-year-old is currently in custody at Kensington's police station and is being questioned. The pregnant actress is currently engaged in a public feud with ex-lover Stephen Bing over the paternity of her unborn child.
Tennis star Monica Seles and her mother were treated for minor injuries after a drunk driver made a left turn into their path on Wednesday, Reuters reports. Seles, 28, was driving her sports utility vehicle in Venice, Fla., with Ester Seles, 62, when the accident occurred. The driver, Cynthia Bauman, was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol and making an improper left turn.
Filmmaker Billy Wilder (The Apartment) was taken to a Los Angeles hospital last week for breathing problems, USA Today reports. Harold Nelson, Wilder's publicist, said Friday that the 95-year-old actor was doing much better.
A former schoolmate of Eminem's, DeAngelo Bailey, has filed a $1 million lawsuit against the rapper, claiming his song "Brain Damage" damaged his reputation, Detroit's Free Press reports. In the song, a school bully bashes Eminem against a bathroom urinal and breaks his nose. Bailey denies that he harassed the rapper and claims the lyrics were intended to damage Bailey in order to improve Eminem's reputation as a rap artist. A lawyer for Eminem told the paper, "From all I can tell, this is a case of 'I'll file a lawsuit and see if I can get some money.'"
Napster and the U.S. record industry will go before a federal appeals court in Pasadena, Calif., Monday to argue over how much initiative the song-swapping service can take in order to comply with a court-ordered injunction to stop trade in copyright-protected music, Reuters reports. In order to comply, Napster says it needs file names rather than just the song titles and names of artists provided by the recording industry. The recording industry contends they should not have to supply Napster with specific file names.
Nevada Lt. Gov. Lorraine Hunt and Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman announced last week that Dec. 12, which would have been Frank Sinatra's 86th birthday, will be celebrated as "Sinatra Day." As part of the celebration, Las Vegas strip hotel casinos will display "Happy Birthday Frank" on their marquees and a CD featuring the song "It's Time for You" will be released, AP reports.
Rod Steiger, whose films include On the Waterfront, In the Heat of the Night and The Player, received a lifetime achievement award from the New York International Independent Film and Video Festival on Thursday. Steiger was presented with the award while attending the screening of his latest film A Month of Sundays at the Vogue Theatre in Los Angeles, AP reports.
Judi Dench has received an Academy Fellowship award from the British Academy of Film and Television Art for her outstanding contribution to film and television, Sky News reports. The Fellowships is the highest accolade given by BAFTA. Dench, who is a five-time BAFTA winner, joins the likes of Michael Caine and Stanley Kubrick, both recipients of the Fellowship Award.
Cuba began its weekend homage to former Beatle John Lennon on Saturday with President Fidel Castro's inauguration of a bronze statue of the singer in a Havana park, Reuters reports. Lennon was an underground cult figure for Cuban youth for about 15 years following Castro's Cuban Revolution in 1959. Authorities organized two days of concerts, art fairs, and book and documentary presentations to commemorate the 21st anniversary of Lennon's murder.
Madonna presented conceptual artist Martin Creed with the $28,600 Turner Prize in London on Sunday for his controversial piece entitled The Lights Going On and Off, a bare room with a light that switches on and off. Madonna prompted Channel Four to issue a speedy apology to its viewers for her strong language when she told the crowd: "At a time when political correctness is valued over honesty, I would also like to say, right on, mother---, everyone is a winner,'' Reuters reports.
Tom Petty has been nominated for the University of Florida's Distinguished Achievement Award given to individuals for "exceptional achievements in a chosen profession, for demonstrated leadership, and for other exemplary accomplishments." Gainesville, Fla. native Petty, the 51-year-old lead singer of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, was nominated for his contributions to music and for his hu