As special ops badasses go, SEALs are arguably on top of the food chain, the glamorous rock stars of the Special Forces community. Alas, Hollywood’s track record in portraying this elite brotherhood had been anything but stellar. Since the 1990 movie ‘Navy SEALs’ starring Charlie Sheen and Michael Biehn, there's only been ‘G.I. Jane’ in 1997 with Demi Moore before the rather dry and dull two-hour recruiting commercial ‘Act of Valor’ featuring real Navy SEALs, if we leave out such movies as ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ and ‘Captain Phillips’ in which SEALs only made brief appearances relative to the movie‘s overall length.
That is, until now. ‘Lone Survivor,’ based on ex-SEAL Petty Officer Second Class Marcus Luttrell’s 2007 non-fiction bestseller, finally gave this special breed of warriors the definitive treatment they deserve. Back in 2009, I read this story along with another account of a spec-ops mission-gone-awry called ‘Roberts Ridge,’ and when I heard 'Lone Survivor' was being adapted to a movie my reaction was “Great, I can’t wait!” While significant portions of Luttrell's book were devoted to his experience in Training Class 228 at Coronado and biographical sketches of the four SEAL Team 10 members (Mike Murphy, Danny Dietz, Matthew Axelson and Luttrell, a 6-foot-5 bear-of-a-Texan played by the compact 5-foot-8 Wahlberg) in the ill-fated mission to capture or kill a Taliban leader called Ahmad Shah, the movie wasted little time in getting straight to the gritty action with intense firefights reminiscent of ‘Black Hawk Down,’ ‘Band of Brothers’ and ‘Saving Private Ryan.’
Produced and directed by actor-cum-director Peter Berg (‘The Kingdom’), ‘Lone Survivor’ is a powerful, visceral, grueling and harrowing film which captured the culture and ethos of this special breed of warriors. Their camaraderie, bravery and selfless sacrifice towards their teammates are qualities we can never fully understand, but this movie came as close as possible to imparting to an outsider the fundamental truth that, when the shit hits the fan, what these warriors fight and die for is each other.