Lone Survivor – reviews of 'authentic' Afghan war movie

War porn or critique of the American military machine? Film about Navy Seals in Afghanistan triggers debate


What you need to know

Military action drama Lone Survivor, starring Mark Wahlberg, has prompted debate among critics over its portrait of Navy Seals in Afghanistan.

The film, based on a New York Times bestselling book about a real Navy Seal mission and directed by Peter Berg (Friday Night Lights), has been praised for its gripping and realistic action but also criticised by some as "war porn".

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It tells the story of four Navy Seals on a covert mission in Afghanistan to neutralise a high-ranking Taliban operative. When they stumble upon a group of Afghan goatherds, their position is compromised, and the mission goes awry.

Also stars Taylor Kitsch, Emile Hirsch, Ben Foster and Eric Bana.

What the critics like

Neither an anti-war tract nor a jingoistic rallying cry, "the brutal but humane Lone Survivor registers as a howl of despair for so many young men and women lost in war", says Ashley Clark in Time Out. And few films can lay claim to such a sustained, technically impressive rendering of the consequences of combat on the human body.

Lone Survivor features quite possibly "the most authentic gunfight you'll see and the most affecting view of combat since Black Hawk Down", says James Dyer in Empire. This is a potent glimpse at the reality of modern warfare for the Call Of Duty generation, and it scores a hit with every shot.

It can function both war porn and "a critique of the American war machine", but one thing's certain, it's a film that will get people talking, says Emma Simmonds on ArtsDesk. The actors are great and keep things engaging, while the bone-crunching action is thrillingly, sometimes terrifyingly rendered.

What they don't like

America's culture wars have reached the hair-trigger state where any film purporting to show the realities of war - Zero Dark Thirty and Black Hawk Down as well as Lone Survivor - is accused of being "jingoistic snuff", says Tim Robey in the Daily Telegraph. While this film seeks to avoid accusations of racism by seeming almost cravenly grateful for "a few good brown people", it "botches this aspect of his story with galumphing sentimentality".

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