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If the Taliban is Evil, Navy SEALs are an Avenging Angel
Marcus Luttrell, with help from Author Patrick Robinson, wrote his titular story of his one life experience that would forever define who he was, who he is, and who he will remain. Unfortunately, the other three members of his fellow Navy SEALs, participating in their mission to engage the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2005, were not so fortunate. Rather than "Lone Survivor" being solely Marcus Luttrell's first-person story of survival against terrible odds, it is, moreover, the story of his fellow "brothers" in that fight, which went so terribly wrong, regardless of the extra-human heroism of these four Navy SEALs to survive.
These four members of SEAL Team 10: Lt. Michael Murphy, played by Taylor Kitsch; Gunner's Mate Second Class Danny Dietz, played by Emile Hirsch; Sonar Technician Second Class Matt 'Axe' Axelson, played by Ben Foster, Hospital Corpsman First Class Marcus Luttrell, played by Mark Wahlberg; were participants in the fated mission, Operation Redwing, where their objective was to kill or capture Taliban lead operative, Ahmad Shah, played by Yousuf Azami. Ahmad Shah was reported to be guarded by 10 Taliban fighters, but when the Operation Redwing (named for the NHL Hockey team) SEAL team was close enough to engage the enemy, they found the Taliban force to be upwards of 100 men.
With their intel compromised and their communications blocked due to the terrain, their mission immediately appeared untenable at best. With no other opportunity available, the team elected to be patient until both intel and communications improved. It did not.
The team was discovered by partisan shepherds, and rather than dispatching them with extreme prejudice so that the mission might survive, they released them on their own recognizance, and abandoned the mission. The problem with the humanitarian release of these Taliban spies was that the hunters quickly became the hunted and their mission now was merely to survive.
Maybe if these SEALs had just 'greased' these Taliban Sympathizers, and hid the bodies, then this terrible story would not need to be told. But that is not the American way. We are a good people. The Taliban ... not so much.
Once the fighting began on that mountain of Sawtalo Sar, which was well over 9,000 feet above sea level, Operation Redwing was over, and Luttrell's SEAL team found themselves vastly outnumbered by well armed Taliban, who had the better position of the higher ground. At this point the film was about just two things: finding the better firing position, and finding cover to do so.
Watching these Navy SEALs work as a team, and to bear witness to the lengths they would go to achieve these necessary goals to sustain themselves and each other, was both difficult to serve as an audience to these recounted events, and created in most, an abiding respect for these heroic Navy SEALs ... all Navy SEALs. I remember thinking that the essence of these four men, on this mountain at this time, have got to be four of the toughest, smartest Americans today; at least in the upper regions of the top 1% of all of us.
One can well understand why the Navy puts these men through the arduous training, which, at the beginning of this captivating film, exhibited real stock footage of actual Navy SEALs fighting for, and finding within themselves, the personal toughness to transcend incredible pain to qualify to become a member of this elite force. It made this reviewer truly appreciate these men who are the absolute best of us, and thankful for they who protect us from such evil.
"Remember the philosophy of the U.S. Navy SEALs: "I will never quit...My Nation expects me to be physically harder and mentally stronger than my enemies. If knocked down, I will get back up, every time. I will draw on every remaining ounce of strength to protect my teammates...I am never out of the fight." - Marcus Luttrell
Director, and screenwriter, Peter Berg's treatment of Marcus Luttrell's and Patrick Robinson book, "Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10", while basic in the telling of any real story of great warriors against insurmountable odds, bore ominous justice to those three heroes of SEAL Team 10, who did what they were asked, and paid the ultimate sacrifice. Also paying homage to these fallen heroes were the actors of this fine film: Mark Wahlberg, Ben Foster, Emile Hirsch, Taylor Kitsch, respectively playing the surviving Marcus Luttrell, who actually had a number of cameos in the film, and the fallen Matt 'Axe' Axelson, Danny Dietz and Michael Murphy.
This film paid incredible homage to the true story of a terrible moment in the life of a "Lone Survivor", and the deaths of three fallen heroes. Maybe it is analogous to the hope of human will in good Americans, or maybe just a true story of extraordinary, well trained men, all heroes.
I am not capable of knowing the correct answer, but maybe the best way to sum up the reason for this film of 121 minutes, this story is Marcus Luttrell's own words at the conclusion of this film:
"Brave men have fought and died building the proud tradition and fear of reputation that I am bound to uphold. I died up on that mountain. There is no question, a part of me will forever be up on that mountain, dead, as my brothers died. But there is a part of me that lived, because of my brothers. Because of them I am still alive. And I can never forget, but no matter how much it hurts, how dark it gets or no matter how far you fall, you are never out of the fight." - Marcus Luttrell
Rated R. Released on DVD June 3, 2014.
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