Lone Survivor desperately wants to be described with clichéd buzzwords like “authentic,” “gritty” and “visceral,” but never earns such descriptors. When its four bearded Navy SEALs find themselves outnumbered by hundreds of Taliban guerrilla fighters, the action sequences’ painful physicality (there’s some bone-crunching stuntwork on display) is squandered by poor directorial choices from Peter Berg. The combination of amplified explosions, smash-zooms and sub-Snyder scenes that sluice in and out of slow-motion produce an effect that’s bombastically inauthentic.
“Lone survivor” Mark Wahlberg demonstrates his limited range as an actor, though I’m don’t know who could make “I need a knife! That’s a fucking duck!” work. The screenplay certainly doesn’t do his co-stars any favours either, saddling them with jingoistic clunkers like, “You can die for your country. I’m going to live for mine.”
It’s not without merit. The achingly implausible setting – New Mexico trying and failing to stand in for Afghanistan – serves as both gorgeous backdrop and effective metaphor, as the men are driven from the verdancy of dense, lust woods into barren wilderness dominated by craggy outcrops of stark alabaster rocks. The soundtrack – from Explosions in the Sky– is overt but effective, combining soaring melancholy guitars with driving, militaristic drums.