OUT OF 4
Director Peter Berg (“Friday Night Lights”, “The Kingdom”) has made a remarkable film whose title reveals the film’s overall outcome. It is a true story as told by Navy Seal Marcus Luttrell from a book he wrote about his deployment to the Afghan mountains in 2005. Luttrell (Mark Wahlberg) a medic and sniper was with Lt. Michael Murphy (Taylor Kitsch) a gunner’s mate named Danny P. Dietz (Emile Hirsch) and sonar technician Matthew “Axe” Axelson (Ben Foster) on a mission called Operation Red Wings to bring down a Taliban commander Ahmad Shah (Yousuf Azami).
The movie begins by presenting an extended training sequence. This bonding among Seals feels familiar from other war films and is the weakest section of the work. But, once the Seals begin their mission, the unsparing film becomes riveting and visceral beyond anything we’ve ever seen.
It all comes into play when the Seals encounter some Afghan goat herders. The decision not to kill them sets an ambush into play which ultimately is catastrophic for all the SEALS, but one, as they are fatally outnumbered. Cut off from HQ we watch the men methodically get picked apart as they are badly bruised from rocks and falls beyond belief. What makes the bravura film making so powerful is how nobly the men maintain their dignity as they are cut down one by one. The courage and character of these men is captured by this amazing film as it shows the tenacity of these men as they faced disaster when things went tragically wrong.