This grueling R-rated thriller is based on a failed 2005 mission when four SEAL team members were sent to kill or capture a Taliban leader. Director Peter Berg ("Battleship") takes us into the heart of a pretend Afghanistan (actually a stunningly rugged New Mexico) for a white-knuckle experience with all the adrenalin and gunfire that you could possibly expect in a situation like this. We were physically and mentally exhausted before the final credits began to scroll.
If I were to look for a villain, I would point to the communications failures that leaves our quartet stranded in harm's way with no hope of rescue. This movie makes sure we understand what skilled and determined fighters the Taliban has become with their ever more sophisticated weaponry. Our team is painfully aware of the Rules of Engagement, even to their own detriment. This film does NOT trash our military; on the contrary, it shows the superb dedication of our warriors.
We see: * Mark Wahlberg ("2 Guns") is our lone survivor; brace yourself for some bloody self-surgery before any medic is on the scene. (And remember, this is based on a true story!) * Taylor Kitsch ("Friday Night Lights") makes the tough call that colors the rest of their raid. * Emile Hirsch ("Prince Avalanche") has a girlfriend who wants an "Arabic" horse. He is told the breed is "Arabian," but he's not sure. * Ben Foster ("Ain't Them Bodies Saints") votes to "eliminate" those accidental hostages because the team's goal is to prevent more US fatalities. * Eric Bana ("Closed Circuit") is the capable and dedicated officer in charge of the attempt. It's clear how wisely he plans the strike and how loyal he is to his troops. * Yousuf Azami ("The Unit") is Ahmad Shahd, the notorious Taliban leader: Brace yourself for at least one beheading. * I wish I had the name of that big-eyed little boy in the village: He brings the whole sortie down to a personal level.
Expect a lot of profanity (this is a military assault with young men fighting for their lives), confusing action (just like it would be in real life), more blood than I care for (remember the real fellows actually bled real blood!), and the shock when our hero sees Afghani villagers in the fight.
Mark Wahlberg went up a couple of notches in my estimation when he did a well-publicized rant about actors who complain of the hardships they suffer when filming a movie like this. He said (and I'm paraphrasing), "They should try it in REAL life with REAL bullets and NO catered lunch!"
Stay through those final credits as they pay homage to the actual members of SEAL Team 10, complete with names, ranks, family photos, etc. By then, we know which ones are dead. Our pumped screening audience could NOT stop applauding!
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