You’d think you could only go up from Battleship. Writer-director Peter Berg’s new pie-eyed paean to the American military, adapted from Marcus Luttrell’s nonfiction book of the same name, chronicles a real-life mission gone wrong—2005’s Operation Red Wings. A four-man Navy SEAL team (Mark Wahlberg, Ben Foster, Emile Hirsch and Taylor Kitsch) is dropped into Afghanistan, tasked with assassinating a high-ranking Taliban leader. Unfortunately, these mighty mercenaries are quickly discovered by civilian goatherds, after which things go south very quickly.
Lone Survivor is war porn of the highest order, relishing every bloody bullet hit and Dolby-accentuated bone crunch while trading in the most facile armed-conflict ironies. Berg treats the SEAL team like cartoon symbols of American sacrifice—in one sequence, several of them even roll down the steep side of a cliff like Wile E. Coyote thwarted by jihadist Road Runners. Those evil Afghans, meanwhile, twirl their mustaches plenty in the first act, which of course portends the appearance of a bunch of saintly ones in the third. Berg may be adhering to the basic facts, but his movie’s childish machismo is a disgrace to all involved.
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