Lone Survivor

It’s an imaginary world where I have become a big shot Hollywood movie director, and somehow, I have achieved this whilst maintaining a moral compass. A producer comes to me with a package: Action movie based on a bestselling book, Mark Wahlberg, Afghanistan. I am all over it, this is a going to be great, we can go with the anti-war angle, because this is now obligatory, and still the good guys can pulverize the enemy whilst playing some tunes over the loud speakers, America wins again. Except “You didn’t let me finish … Action movie, Mark Wahlberg, Afghanistan, true story, only one man lives”. Oh, that, I wouldn’t touch. Because it is a potentially depressing story? Because America very much don’t get to win? No, because of those magic words true story. I think that true story is a fantastic pair of words to use in outstandingly uplifting and heartwarming situations or at the start of horror movies. Here though it is just slightly confusing. Lone Survivor is basically an action movie in the classic jingoistic, hero worshipping sense; it absolutely reinforces the notion that to die fighting bad people for the freedom of good people is an honourable and perhaps glorious way to go, and equally that good prevails. There is also no denying that it is a pretty amazing story. The advertising campaign made a big deal out of the fact that the one man who survived the events upon which the film is based was fully on board with the film. Those who didn’t make it were his friends and colleagues, and there is a definite sense that he felt that the film honoured those people, and went some way to showing their heroism and humanity in the face of unimaginable adversity. In this sense the film works. The problem I have with it is that people died, and this film graphically shows how that occurred. Morally, I am not sure where this places both the people who made the film and those of us who watched it. The film is, after all, entertainment, perhaps this is more problematic in this sense than with regard to the book upon which it draws. These events, written, and read are inextricably connected to the people who experienced them, the act of reading gives time to contemplate the position these people found themselves in, and time to consider the sacrifice they made in service to their country. What the film does though is allow Mark Wahlberg and some other actors to shoot an awful lot of people, before those other actors get shot themselves. There is no time to contemplate, it all looks amazing, exciting, awful, its Rambo but with the terrible realization that things like this actually happen. The question I am asking myself is why does the film exist? I am not saying it is a story which shouldn’t be told, there is an exceptionally important, and poignant point to it all. I am just not sure it should have been packaged, sold, and fun to watch.

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