Let’s have a little quiz to get this party started. First question: Four Navy SEALs (Mark Wahlberg, Ben Foster, Taylor Kitsch, Emile Hirsch) start out on a mission in Afghanistan. How many return? (Hint: see title of movie.) Second question: Who is the lone survivor? (Hint: Mark Wahlberg is the biggest name in this movie; he is also one of the producers.) Third question: Despite the fact that, throughout the movie, Mark Wahlberg wears the same Army fatigues as every other character, why is there a separate end credit reading: “Costumer to Mark Wahlberg”? (Hint: This a Hollywood movie.) Fourth and final question: The entire story takes place in Afghanistan. Where was the movie actually shot? (Hint: Name a state between Arizona and Texas?) OK, quiz time is over.
Now it’s time for a movie that alternates between really long, sometimes tense, but mostly boring sequences — broken up by loud and incessant violence. The good news: the story tries to shed some light on the difficult decisions of war and the fundamental goodness of the people we’re fighting for. The bad news: it mostly relies on clichés and fails to get us emotionally involved in the characters it features. Neither any character, nor the movie itself, has a real story arc. Everything just continues until there is lots of violence and blood shed and then it’s over. We have no idea what – if anything – the mission accomplished. If that’s Berg’s point, it’s not enough to base a movie on. That may be a reflection on the Afghan war itself, but both those who served on this SEALs operation – and of course to a far lesser extent, those who bought tickets for this movie — deserve more.