Lone Survivor

Director: Peter Berg

Stars: Mark Wahlberg, Taylor Kitsch, and Emile Hirsch

Sentence Summary: A graphic and thought-provoking statement about the horrifying realities of the war in Afghanistan.


So the other night I reluctantly went to see Lone Survivor. I say reluctantly because I went into it expecting the all-too typical Rah-Rah U.S.A mantra that tends to frequent any conflict-based American film (*ahem* Olympus has Fallen). Well, it is clear that this movie was told from an American’s perspective, and it is clear that it is celebrating the efforts of their fallen soldiers (which is something that they absolutely deserve), however I was pleasantly surprised to find that this film was not just another piece of American — dare I say it — propaganda.

That’s my major problem with Hollywood movies about global conflicts, whether they are based on true events or not, it often seems that many of them take advantage of their influence to spread ideas and stories that vilify entire groups of people. From Iron Man to Red Dawn, the film industry often makes it is clear that America equals good, and Asians/Middle Eastern people equals bad.

War movies have an especially important responsibility because many people (like me) are too uninformed about important issues like this, and in turn, Hollywood movies provide needed information. For better or for worse, movies inform people about these complex and volatile issues. This is something that can be dangerous because many people who sit down to watch a movie are expecting only entertainment, not ideological or moralistic messages. This allows movies to bypass our critical thinking abilities. Thus, when directors choose to depict people of other cultures as unstoppably and nonsensically cruel, we can develop prejudice because we are not always thinking critically about the movie’s motives and messages. This is a truly scary concept.

On this note, that is what I liked about this film. Without giving away too much of the plot, I will just say that Lone Survivor took the time to make it clear that the Taliban were the bad guys, NOT the entire population of people living in the Middle East. I was pleased by this fact and it really shaped my perception of the entire film because it came across as an honest and less-biased view of the sickening reality of war.

However, I would like to again point out that  I am by no means a war expert, so I would love to hear what some of you think about this movie or about America’s vilification of other cultures in general.

Verdict: See it, but be ready for some intense and graphic war-related violence.

Photo courtesy of Internet Movie Database (imdb.com) 

8 thoughts on “Lone Survivor

  1. Generally, I agree that Lone Survivor shows not all Afghanis are enemies or terrorists. But I think it still something of a propaganda affair. As Brother Ali reminds us, in war, “There’s a fine line between a soldier and a terrorist.” Lone Survivor doesn’t attempt to represent Taliban fighters as nuanced, something which they surely are in reality.

    Just a thought.

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