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A blog wherein a literary agent will sometimes discuss his business, sometimes discuss the movies he sees, the tennis he watches, or the world around him. In which he will often wish he could say more, but will be obliged by business necessity and basic politeness and simple civility to hold his tongue. Rankings are done on a scale of one to five Slithy Toads, where a 0 is a complete waste of time, a 2 is a completely innocuous way to spend your time, and a 4 is intended as a geas compelling you to make the time.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Lone Survivor

Over the weekend I saw Lone Survivor with Myke Cole, my favorite Coast Guard Reserve officer.


The only real question is this:  In ten years, when it is movie night at FOB Somewhere, are the troops going to be downing their popcorn with this, or Black Hawk Down.  Lt. Cole votes for Black Hawk Down.  I vote Lone Survivor.

An odd choice for me.  Black Hawk Down tried hard to let us get to know its characters, and Lone Survivor tries hardly at all.  The context comes from a montage of SEAL training under the opening credits, to give you some sense of what these men endure to get where they are.  And other than that, an email or two with the gal at home, some discussion of whether to get the gal an Arabian (or is it Arabic?) horse, a race around the base channeling either the yard race in Chariots of Fire or the volleyball in Top Gun.  Hazing the new guy.  But not much.  And all the guys are buried in facial hair so you can't see their features or tell them apart all that easy.  They have to act thru their hair thickets.

But when you get to the fighting it doesn't matter.

And I think this might be where I prefer Lone Survivor over Black Hawk Down.

I have seen plenty of urban war in my cinematic history.

Peter Berg, the director of Lone Survivor, did urban war in The Kingdom.  Kubrick did it in Full Metal Jacket.  Black Hawk Down wasn't the first or the last, and even if it is the best it doesn't lack for other films with similar scenes.  They abound.  And jungle warfare abounds in any number of Viet Nam movies and elsewhere.

But I can't remember a film that gave me the gut-wrenching chill of watching these guys tumble down a mountain like real life versions of a Road Runner cartoon, each bump against the rocks rendered in very verisimilitudinous Dolby Atmos. I felt like I was on the mountain with this band of brothers.  I liked Black Hawk Down but have no memory of it, no scene that sticks in my mind.  I can still feel those jolts from Lone Survivor a few days after.

I am assured that most of the details in the movie are spot on. Myke Cole showed me his Maverick gloves, vouched for the use of Under Armour.

I can vouch for the A+ rating from Cinemascore, the company that polls Friday might audiences.  The movie is that good.

The movie isn't a political statement.  Read it how you want, a study in the futility of waging war in Afghanistan with radios that don't work, or a testament to the strength of character of the American military, or anywhere in between.

The movie will not be shown at the next Raytheon annual meeting.

The Oscar nominations it has in sound categories are well deserved. Those jolts I feel four days later -- sound, baby, sound.    That Lone Survivor has about as many nominations as Lone Ranger is feeble. The movie doesn't lend itself to acting awards; hard to act past those 'staches.  But no Best Picture nod?

As a historical note, I have now seen a Ben Foster movie at the UA Court Street with both Myke Cole and Peter Brett.

1 comment:

Dan O. said...

Nice review. Berg may not always be my favorite director out there, but he shows that he can shoot an action-scene and make it as brutal and raw as they come.