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“Lone Sur­vivor,” Peter Berg’s newest film to grace the silver screen, is a rare feature. It is not just another All-American, testos­terone-fueled, gritty action film. It is per­sonal. It leaves audi­ences with a pal­pable sen­sation of loss and draws viewers deeply into the moral dilemma of the plot. Vio­lence is not used to make viewers laugh or cheer, but it causes them to sym­pa­thize and wince. Ulti­mately, after watching the film, movie-goers are left with feelings of patri­otism, grat­itude, and a sobering grasp of the reality of war. Few action films, whether they are based on truth or fiction, are cable of con­necting with their audience in this way. Peter Berg has raised the bar for action films, but it is the true story behind this director’s piece that sets his film apart.

“Lone Sur­vivor”  follows the lives of Marcus Lut­trell and his fellow SEAL Team 10 of sol­diers on their 2005 mission to kill a top Al-Qaeda leader in Afghanistan, a mission in which Marcus Lut­trell was the sole sur­vivor. During their mission, they are com­pro­mised by a few young goat herders in the moun­tains. The SEALs could either “ter­minate the com­promise” or let them live and risk tipping off the Taliban.

The team lets the group of boys live, but they are soon sur­rounded by enemy fire. Berg’s use of silence gives this pivotal moment space to breathe. Gut-wrenching, pathetic irony is tan­gible when these men seal their fates with this final act of kindness. From here on, the audience must watch the group struggle and crawl their way through open fire, as their bodies are tossed and cas­caded down rocks and rough edges, all while being pelted by enemy blows. Often, actions sequences like this can come off as “cheesy” or over­bearing, but Berg’s use of slow-motion vio­lence and frantic panning and cutting between close-up and long-shots allows this scene to have a true-to-life effect. The audience almost feels as though they are part of this dis­ori­en­tating battle in the moun­tains.

After showing a pre­sumably real footage clip of the SEALs, the “Lone Survivor”closes by showing pic­tures of the actual SEALs –– pic­tures from their wedding day and pic­tures of them holding their newborn children. Despite all of the toughness and the occa­sional, witty one-liners, the movie forces its audience to remember that what they witness is based on a real event. Real men lost their lives and left their fam­ilies behind. Overall, Peter Berg and the cast did these men justice. The director never tried to make political claims about the war, nor did he try to aggrandize these men into Hol­lywood action heroes. His film is about the humanity and courage of these Navy SEALs. This film well war­rants the attention it is receiving. I highly rec­ommend it.

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Kayla Stetzel
Kayla Stetzel has been reporting for the Collegian since 2013. She is resident of Ft. Wayne Indiana. She is a Marketing Management major with a focus in Law. When’s she’s not writing or studying case files, she’s keeping up to date with music industry news or volunteering with animals. She plans on attending law school with the intent of becoming an entertainment attorney. email: kstetzel@hillsdale.edu | twitter: @KaylaStetzel