‘Lone Survivor’ glorifies warriors, but not the war


Pete Berg knows men.

Not the pencil pushers. Not the white-collar types who just happen to have a Y chromosome. Men.

The ones with their boots on the ground and mud, grease and God knows what else under their never-known-a-manicure nails who’ve inspired countless country songs and beer commercials.

He brought them to life in the underrated “The Kingdom.” He fetishized them in “Friday Night Lights.” But the writer-director may have assembled his manliest tale yet in “Lone Survivor.”

Many of us barely have enough testosterone to watch it.

Based on the real encounter in which a 2005 surveillance mission into Afghanistan’s Kunar province went horribly wrong for the four-man Navy SEAL team (Mark Wahlberg, Taylor Kitsch, Emile Hirsch and Ben Foster), “Lone Survivor” makes you feel invested in the characters despite the barest of personal details. One guy’s wife wants a horse. Another’s is redecorating. You really don’t need to know more. They’re men, and they love each other. They’re just not going to talk about it much.

After an ill-fated encounter with a trio of goatherds, and with their communications with reinforcements severed, they’re hunted by a never-ending army of Taliban soldiers across punishing, unforgiving terrain.

Given the spoiler in the title, it’s fair game to say things don’t turn out well. But the sheer amount of violence in “Lone Survivor” is jarring.

The four leads are battered, broken and bullet-riddled. At times, you start to wonder whether they’ll ever run out of places to get shot. For sheer brutality, Wahlberg’s passion project begins to resemble “The Passion of the Christ.”

To its credit, though, “Lone Survivor” glorifies the warriors but not the war.

So, regardless of how you feel about Afghanistan, if the closing footage of the real guys, including Boulder City’s Shane Patton, doesn’t kick you in the gut and make you proud to be an American, you should probably just grab your things and start heading for the border.

■ Trophy time: If Johnny Avello, director of race and sports operations at Wynn Las Vegas, is right — and he often is — the Golden Globe Awards (5 p.m. Sunday, KSNV-TV, Channel 3) should be very good for the oddsmaker’s picks: “12 Years a Slave,” its stars Chiwetel Ejiofor and Lupita Nyong’o, and its director, Steve McQueen; “American Hustle” and its leading lady, Amy Adams; “The Wolf of Wall Street’s” Leonardo DiCaprio; “Blue Jasmine’s” Cate Blanchett; and “Dallas Buyers Club’s” Jared Leto.

■ On the ‘Case’: Yolanda McClary, who spent 26 years with the Metropolitan Police Department, is back to investigate unsolved small-town murders in the second season of “Cold Justice” (8 p.m. Friday, TNT).

■ Back for more: The “Pawn Stars” spinoffs “Counting Cars” (9 p.m. Tuesdays, History) and “American Restoration” (10 p.m. Tuesdays, History) kicked off new seasons last week.

■ Full-court press: Las Vegas writer-director Joseph Sorge’s documentary “Divorce Corp.,” which looks at waste and corruption in family law, is playing at Village Square.

Contact Christopher Lawrence at clawrence@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4567.

 

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