From shooting down a helicopter to firefights, film director Peter Berg spared no details to recreate a tragic United States Navy SEALs mission in Afghanistan in "Lone Survivor," an unflinching account of one of the worst losses of life in the history of the special operations force.
The film, which has its wide release this Friday, January 10, 2014, is based on the best-selling book by Marcus Luttrell, the only man who lived to recount what happened during the covert June 2005 Operation Red Wings in which 11 SEALs and eight soldiers died.
Two-time Oscar nominee Mark Wahlberg plays Luttrell, a medic and a sharpshooter who was one of a four-man team dropped by helicopter in the rugged mountains near Afghanistan's border with Pakistan on a mission to find a Taliban leader.
"The dominant experience for me was the brotherhood that existed between these four men - the tragedy of their loss," Berg once stated.
Berg holds nothing back in the intense, brutal battle scenes, depicting war in all its gruesome detail. Comradery, war and bravery are recurring themes for Berg. "I consistently find myself attracted to the psychology of violence and people who are willing to put themselves in this kind of situation," said Berg, who spent time embedded with a SEAL team before adapting Luttrell's book for the screen.
"Berg wanted the audience to be as close to our characters and as close to the action as possible to experience the extreme circumstances our war heroes had to go through emotionally and physically."
–Tobias A. Schliessler (cinematographer)
Joining Wahlberg is Taylor Kitsch as Michael Murphy, the on-ground team officer who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his efforts to save his men. Emile Hirsch portrays Danny Dietz, the team's communications officer, while Ben Foster is sonar technician Matthew "Axe" Axelson and Eric Bana is Erik Kristensen, the commander of the operation.
Luttrell, now 38 and retired in Texas, and other SEALs were on the set when the film was shot in New Mexico, helping Berg and the actors portray what happened as accurately as possible.
Wahlberg admitted being nervous about playing Luttrell and about the scrutiny the film would receive from the families of the men who died, the SEAL community and the military as a whole. But he felt the film needed to be made.
The film received mostly positive reviews; critics praised Berg's direction, as well as the acting, story, visuals and battle sequences.