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.
When it comes to athletes trying to act, a lot of them fail and the public says, "It's OK. They're athletes. " Some break through and are able to shine on either the big screen or the television. Here's 10 of them that were able to make the best transition - and although he was somewhat funny in the Naked Gun movies, I'm not including O.J. Simpson.
1. Arnold Schwarzenegger
Before he was the Terminator or Conan the Barbarian, he was a bodybuilder. Some may not think that's a sport, but it takes many hours of dedicated training to reach the levels that Ahnuld did (though some say he got help from a syringe). If you watch the movies, he moves with an athletes' grace - in my mind he deserves to be on the list.
2. The Rock
There are some who may scoff at Dwayne Johnson's placement on the list, saying that professional wrestling is not a sport. It is in the sense that the wrestlers often have to do very difficult and acrobatic acts in the ring. He also played college football at Miami, which does NOT take slouches. While he's had some lesser fare in the past few years, he's making an action comeback.
3. Jason Statham
Bet you didn't know that before he got Cranked Up and kicked butt as the Transporter and an Expendable, he was on the British National Diving team. Perhaps he threatened to punch and kick the water if it dared ripple when he dove in.
4. Fred Dryer
Dryer played in the NFL for 13 seasons, mostly with the Los Angeles Rams, back when Los Angeles HAD a football team. He even had an interception for a touchdown. He then went on to have a long run onthe TV cop show Hunter. After the show ended in 1991, he's continued to have a lot of guest spots on shows, even now.
5. Bubba Smith
Smith, who played 7 seasons in the NFL, really became well-known for his role in Police Academy and its subsequent increasingly bad sequels, though he he been appearing on TV shows before that. He was able to use his size and strength for laughs. He died in 2011.
6. Bob Uecker
Uecker, who parlayed his mediocre baseball career as a catcher for comedy ("How do you catch a knuckleball? Wait till it stops rolling behind you and pick it up.") and commercials before appearing on the TV show Mr. Belvedere and Major League. He continues to broadcast for the Milwaukee Brewers baseball team.
7. Alex Karras
Who can forget Karras, who played 12 seasons for the Detroit Lions in the NFL, playing Mongo in Blazing Saddles? Of course, after that, he was on Webster with Emmanuel Lewis. Talk about a size disparity with co-stars.
8. Andre The Giant
Another wrestler, Andre is known for only one role, but oh what a role: Fezzik from The Princess Bride. People could argue that he was doing good acting when he was threatening to strangle Hulk Hogan in the WWF (before the WWE name change). Alas, he died too young, at the age of 46.
9. Carl Weathers
Weathers is best known for the role of Apollo Creed in the Rocky movies. He also was alien bait in the first Predator movie. Before that, he played a couple of seasons in the NFL. His greatest cinematic moment though had to be the most awkward bro-hug with Sylvester Stallone in Rocky III.
10. Jason Lee
Lee was a pro skateboarder before he became an actor, mostly playing slacker roles (My Name Is Earl) before switching to family fare like Alvin and the Chipmunks. How good was he? He was chosen to get his own brand of skating shoes, which put him up there with some dude named Tony Hawk.
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