The Afghanistan-based war drama starring Mark Wahlberg has impressed some, but it might not have made the mark for widespread success
Lone Survivor is director Peter Berg's attempt at turning former Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell's harrowing tale of survival inside enemy territory into a major motion picture, one that initially looked as though it had a very serious claim for Oscar recognition come March. With the film due for a wide release at the end of January, there were hopes that the new Hurt Locker or Argo had arrived, but in the first round of reviews critics have't been left as blown away as initially hoped.
Starring Mark Wahlberg alongside Taylor Kitsch, Emile Hirsch and Ben Foster, the film recalls the botched 2005 covert mission to neutralised an area in the Hindu Kush region of Afghanistan that had fallen under the rule of a high-ranking Taliban official. Adapted from the real, best-selling account from Luttrell, played by Wahlberg in the film, the film has so far split movie critics between loving and loathing the it and ultimately its once clear-looking chances of potential Oscar recognition are looking less and less likely.
"Like the best war movies, Lone Survivor laces action with moral questions that haunt and provoke," a thoroughly impressed Peter Travers said for Rolling Stone, considering it to be one of the finest war movies to come out in recent memory. In his 3/4 star review, Toronto Star critic Peter Howell questioned the clear "jingoism" embedded throughout the film, but praised the "considerable nuance" that ensures the film "comes on like a raised fist."
Although he was appreciative of the depiction of the real men who lost their lives in the real 2005 event, San Francisco Chronicle critic Mick LaSalle complained that all the true-to-life detail cannot make Lone Survivor "a satisfying movie experience" despite the best efforts of Berg and co. Meanwhile, Washington Post critic Michael O'Sullivan has bemoaned the fact that the film is overly non-fictitious and leaves no room for any of the characters to warm to the audience, commenting, "what's missing here is something, or rather, someone, to care about."
Taylor Kitsch and his fellow soldiers are like brothers in the film
One thing that people can seem to agree on however is the performance of Wahlberg and his supporting crew. The cast are described as "grounded" in our own Rich Cline's review for the film, which is largely complimentary although critical of the often "faceless, murderous" depiction of ordinary Afghan citizens in the film, whereas Chicago Tribune critic Michael Phillips comments "Wahlberg remains one of our most reliable and least actorly of movie stars, innately macho but vulnerable enough to seem like a human being caught in an inhuman situation."
Whether the pessimism deters you enough to wait until the DVD release or not, Lone Survivor arrives in cinemas on 10 January in the US and 31 Jan. in the UK and Ireland.