Lone Survivor is about Operation Red wings. It was a Navy Seal operation conducted to take out a Taliban commander named Ahmad Shah. The operation was a complete failure. It wound of costing the lives of every person involved aside from one person. His name is Marcus Luttrell. I guess that makes the title a spoiler.
There are spoilers ahead in my review, so don't read further if that bothers you. I will say that it will probably not affect your viewing experience.
From an entertainment standpoint, I think this film delivers. Unfortunately, if you want something deeper than the average run of the mill military experience, this film falls flat. Peter Berg could have made this film into something greater, but he made a product which is more about telling a story rather than taking on serious issues and creating debate.
The big issue I had is that the film does not take on the fact that America has not learned its lessons when it comes to the country of Afghanistan. There was an Afghani man, Mohammad Gulab, who put his family's life on the line by saving Marcus from the Taliban. What thanks does he get from the Americans at the end of the film? They take Marcus away to their base and abandon the man and his family at the battle zone to defend himself against the Taliban. The Taliban knew he harbored and aided an American, so his and his loved one's lives were in danger. The military did not care.
I guess history repeats itself. After the Soviet Union retreated many years earlier, America abandoned its ally and moved on. A vast uneducated and young population was left alone. They struggled and fought with each other as the country fell into chaos.
Fast forward to Operation Red Wings and the same thing happens again. A guy who put his life on the line for you is left to fend for himself. What if the Aghanis heard that story? I would think it would not win their hearts and minds, but it would lead them to believe that they should support the Taliban. The US may leave one day, but they will be stuck having to deal with their own people after they depart. I think that is why it is very hard for the American military to win their trust now.
This brings me to my next point. Mohammad Gulab, follows a tribal code known as pushtunwali. When he brings Marcus to his village, it is his duty to protect him from his enemies and not let him die at their hands. I know in the American media it is always shown that Afghan tribalism is a backward way of life, but, maybe, this movie could have changed that one-sided view.
For me it shows that tribalism is not all about oppressing women, but it has some positive aspects to it as well. The fact that someone was willing to put their life on the line for a foreigner serving in an opposing military proves that this code is very strictly followed. Is honor that strong of a trait in the American way of life? I think that is a very interesting subject to debate. At the very least, it proves that life is not as simplistic in Afghanistan as it is made out to be by the media.
Finally, Ahmed Shah is called "a real bad guy" in the film when he is first introduced in the film. Is he? Keep in mind, he is not a member of Al Quaida, the group run by Osama Bin Laden, who attacked us during 9/11. He is a member of the Taliban, who are mainly members of the Pushtun tribe. They are the largest ethnic group in Afghanistan.
In the film, he is portrayed as a target. He does not have any pertinent dialogue to the film. What if, instead of the usual portrayal of a bad guy, they make him more complex? He could have been portrayed as a guy who is trying to get an occupying army out of his country. Well, of course no one will ever do that. That just too hard to accomplish. Hollywood is about having clear cut good and bad guys.
I guess the good thing for me is that the movie has propelled me to order the book authored by Marcus Luttrell. If it's one thing I've learned about Hollywood, it is the fact that the book is, usually, better and more detailed and complex than the film.