There is a reason for Lone Survivor's title. It's not a metaphor, analogy, or cheap trick to fool the audience. Viewers won't meet a plot twist or mind-bending revelation during the climax. It's a built-in spoiler. Lone Survivor ends with, well, a lone survivor.
While most features don't advertise predictability as a bragging point, in hindsight—to my surprise—Lone Survivor improves as a narrative. Much like Paul Greengrass's brilliant United 93, we know the characters' fates, which means that tension snowballs through the story. Director Peter Berg (The Kingdom, Friday Night Lights, Battleship) knows that we know where he is going. Yet instead of throwing up smokescreens to hide the inevitable, Berg concentrates on two goals: getting us to the end, and helping us feel when we get there.
Based on the bestselling book by Marcus Luttrell, Lone Survivor chronicles the incredible true story of Operation Red Wings, a 2005 U.S. mission to capture or kill senior al Qaeda official Ahmad Shahd. After a quick landing in northern Afghanistan, four Navy SEALs make their way to a small village near the rugged Pakistani border. The team, made up of Lt. Michael Murphy (Taylor Kitsch), Petty Officer 1st Class Luttrell (Mark Wahlberg), and Petty Officers 2nd Class Matt Axleson (Ben Foster) and Danny Dietz (Emile Hirsch), quickly locates Shahd and his small army of combatants.
While they bunker down for an extraction, the situation takes a quick nosedive. Three Afghani goat farmers—one of them a child—stumble upon Luttrell and company. Out of contact with base, the team is faced with a nearly impossible decision: cut the innocents loose and compromise the mission, or kill them and ...