Mark Wahlberg's 'Lone Survivor' Triumphs After Financial Scepticism?

Prospects are looking pretty bright for Mark Wahlberg's new war movie, Lone Survivor, which is set for release in the new year. Early reviews have praised the Ted actor's involvement in a hard-hitting modern warfare drama which is based on the true story of the US army's failed attempt to capture a Taliban leader in 2005 and is adapted from Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell's book, Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10.

Mark Wahlberg Lone Survivor
Mark Wahlberg Stars As A Soldier In Peter Berg's War Adaptation.

However, despite Wahlberg's proven considerable acting prowess, Hancock's Peter Berg at the helm and Emile Hirsch and Taylor Kitsch in the cast, it was apparently tough to secure funding for the project. Financiers were stunned that they were able to raise the funds at last year's Cannes Film Festival. "We knew that getting presales from the Europeans that this was not going to be easy," remembers Stephan Martirosyan, CFO of Envision Entertainment and a partner in Foresight Unlimited. "It's just not the kind of story that the Europeans care a lot about," he added, via Variety.

"We didn't want to make a political film," said Mark Damon, who handles Envision's foreign sales. "At first glance, it seemed like a jingoist film that would probably not win any Oscars, but Peter did a great job at Cannes and then made a great film - much more than we were expecting." It turns out that any early fears for the movie's potential success were likely unfounded as critics begin to file their early reviews.

Watch The 'Lone Survivor' Trailer:

Both reviewers and execs have been astonished by Berg's attention to detail which included spending a great deal of time with the author and former soldier as well as living for a month with Navy SEALs in Iraq and shooting in the challenging New Mexico mountains. "We feel the heat, sense the tension, see the fear beneath the bravado," says the NY Daily News' Elizabeth Weitzman who scores the film low for its emphasis on action over building the personalities of the main soldiers.

Sure, Saving Private Ryan this is not with its fight scenes that are "graphically brutal and unbearably intense as any ever put on screen [...] destruction is Berg's primary focus."

IGN agrees that Lone Survivor is toe-curlingly graphic: "each bullet hit is gratuitously depicted for maximum brutality" in a movie "adeptly crafted but without much soul." Wahlberg and co. "never become much more than four very tough men," laments NJ.com's The Star-Ledger but points out that we've come to expect little different from the characteristically "lunkhead" director Berg who opts for "rough outbursts than real feelings" in his movies.

Taylor Kitsch Lone Survivor
Critics Were Left Longing For A Little Humanity After Watching 'Lone Survivor.'

Fans of war games such as Call of Duty will be well-versed in violence over compassion but we don't play shooting games to be reminded that the avatar we've just gunned down is human and we don't wish to go to movies to be presented with unfulfilled character profiles.

Indeed, with advancing CGI technology, the lines between video game and movie are becoming more blurred with every first-person shooter release and action movie. Even movies like The Hobbit are now shot from a gaming viewpoint where the viewer is seated behind the action whereas video games are beginning to pad out their stories with character motives and inter-player bonding.

Lone Survivor is simply the next step in this evolution and will click with those who enjoy bloody brutality and don't want to imagine there is any human motive behind the seemingly senseless evil of the Taliban.

Lone Survivor will be released in the US on the 10th January 2014 and in the UK on the 31st January.


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