Lone Survivor: REVIEW

A moving and harrowing tribute to those who daily put their lives on the line for their country. 

The terrifying true story of Operation Red Wings, in which four Navy SEALS were dropped into Afghanistan to capture or kill a top Taliban leader, is breathlessly retold in Lone Survivor. Capturing the brotherly bond that forms between those who serve together, the film ultimately draws its audience into the intense gunfight these men find themselves in after they make a life-defining decision in the midst of their operation.

Lone Survivor‘s message is one of bravery, sacrifice, courage, and patriotism. Though its delivery of that message borders on heavy-handed, it compels throughout and reminds its audience of the incredible sacrifice men and women halfway around the globe are making on a daily basis so that we can sit on our couch and watch Netflix all day and forget there’s even a war going on at all. True heroes are fighting for our freedom and safety in grueling and excruciating circumstances everyday, and Lone Survivor helps us remember that.

How the Operation turned out for these four is not left up to the imagination, given the film’s title. I’m aware that Lone Survivor is titled directly after the book that Marcus Luttrell wrote, but I still can’t help but find it bothering, as it gives much of the story away before the film even starts. It’d be like calling The Empire Strikes Back, It’s Really His Dad.

Mark Wahlberg tries his best, even if the action star can’t pull off the emotional beats that well. Still, he and the rest of the talented cast help deliver a satisfyingly-told story that honors and pays tribute to all of the soldiers that lost their lives in Operation Red Wings.

+ Intense, compelling action
+ Fitting tribute to American soldiers
+ Great ensemble cast
+ Emotional and dramatic

First Act moves slowly
Mark Wahlberg’s main character is the least interesting of the four leads
Opening the film with documented footage before transitioning into the fictional characters is awkward



Lone Survivor is an emotional and patriotic, if heavy-handed, tribute to the Navy SEALS who gave their lives in Operation Red Wings. Full of intense action and excruciating moments, it reminds us of the horrors of war and the indelible sacrifices made on our behalf everyday.


Lone Survivor is rated R for “language and intense violence.” The wartime-violence can be pretty harrowing, showing much bloodshed and carnage. Headshots and gory bullet wounds are all shown, aiming to be authentic to realistic war conditions. The language is also constant, about the same as many similar war films (but realistic given the context). For these reasons, I do not suggest Lone Survivor for children or teenagers, but only adults. 

© Matt Tory, 2013. 

2 thoughts on “Lone Survivor: REVIEW

  1. Mom says:

    No way! Mark Wahlberg was Not the least interesting of the four main characters. He was great in this movie and as the sole survivor, he was the most interesting of them all to me. Other than that, Great review Matthew. 😉

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