True Grit

Entertainment Weekly – December 12, 2013

In 2005, a Navy SEAL team stationed in Afghanistan came under fire. All but one of them were killed. Now ”Lone Survivor,” starring Mark Wahlberg, tells the story of the man who lived.

It’s October 2012, and a bloody Mark Wahlberg is being dragged, screaming and flailing, to a tree stump in the middle of the New Mexico desert, where Taliban soldiers are preparing to decapitate him. A few yards away, a group of former Navy SEALs watch with fury in their eyes, tears streaming down their faces. ”I remember looking over,” Wahlberg recalls, ”and seeing them wanting to just f—ing kill these guys.”

Violence is central to almost every scene inLone Survivor (rated R, out Dec. 25). Based on the autobiographical best-seller by Marcus Luttrell, Peter Berg’s film chronicles the fate of SEAL Team 10 on a disastrous 2005 mission in Afghanistan. Operation Red Wings left 19 men dead. Luttrell, played by Wahlberg, was the only man to escape with his life. He was stranded without communication in the Hindu Kush Mountains after three comrades (played by Taylor Kitsch, Emile Hirsch, and Ben Foster) were killed in a Taliban ambush.

The tension and tragedy of Lone Survivor hinge on a moral dilemma. Early on, SEAL Team 10 is found by some unsuspecting Afghan goatherds. Some of the SEALs push to let them go, and others argue for their death. The men ultimately decide to release them, but the Afghans then reveal the team’s location to the Taliban. And thus an act of mercy gets them killed.

by Grady Smith