The recent Oscar success of The Hurt Locker, Zero Dark Thirty, The Messenger, and others have led to at least one film connected to the “war on terror” emerging every year in hopes of achieving similar notoriety. Universal is hoping Lone Survivor will be the film to capture the headlines this season. A passion project for director Peter Berg, no stranger to the Middle East after 2007’s The Kingdom, the film is based on a true story with echoes of the hunt for Osama Bin Laden, so there’s a good chance it will attract a lot of attention.
Starring a mashismo-laden cast with Mark Wahlberg, Taylor Kitsch, Ben Foster, Emile Hirsch, and Eric Bana, the film is based on the autobiography by Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell about an ill-fated 2005 mission to in the Hindu Kush region of Afghanistan to eliminate a high-level Taliban leader. The decision to let go of an old man and three kids who they rightly could have killed under the rules of engagement comes back to haunt them when they are suddenly attacked by enemy forces.
Berg probably isn’t the first director many think of as an Oscar candidate, and trailers like this are the reason why. Lacking any subtlety whatsoever, it’s little more than a dude movie with lots of killing, gunfire, vague notions of brotherly comraderie, and not much else. Tonally it’s no different than The Rundown, The Kingdom, Battleship, and nearly every other Berg movie. But Universal wouldn’t have such high hopes for no reason, and the cast is spectacular, so maybe we’ll see something more substantial in the coming months.
Lone Survivor opens in limited release on December 27th, then goes wide January 10th 2014.