Lone Survivor (Blu-ray)

June 6, 2014 9 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

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Plot: What’s it about?

I don’t recall much of Peter Berg as an actor, but going over some of the films he’s directed, let’s just say that he’s been hit and miss. His first big film was the 1998 dud Very Bad Things, but he more than made up for it with subsequent films like Friday Night Lights, The Kingdom and Hancock. However when it comes to Lone Survivor, I’m guessing the pressure was on and this was one that he couldn’t and shouldn’t mess up. He didn’t. Then again Berg had just come off Battleship and, well, let’s just say that after that mess (though I actually enjoyed the in your face corny-ness of it) I’m sure a few suits at Universal were breaking a sweat. However Marcus Luttrell’s account of what happened to his unit in June 2005 made for a great novel and after showing Luttrell The Kingdom, the deal was sealed. The goal was simple: don’t mess this up.

Plot wise, the story is relatively simple (and try to avoid thinking about the title of the movie or looking at the cover of the Blu-ray). We follow Marcus Luttrell and his team of Navy SEAL’s as they’re tasked to capture Taliban leader Ahmad Shah. Led by Lt. Michael Murphy (Taylor Kitsch), the team does indeed find Shad, but he’s got an entourage that will make the mission much more difficult. The arrival of local goat herders doesn’t help matters as they’re subsequently let go, but it also forces Murphy and company further away from their support. Bruised and battered, we witness the team as they take the physical burdens of warfare and pay the ultimate price. Obviously if you’ve read the title of the book or movie, you’ll know how many make it out alive.

There’s no denying that Lone Survivor is a great, well-made film. Director Peter Berg did get it right namely to satisfy the families of those that fell in June 2005. I’ve read several reviews of the film and I think it’s a bit over-praised, but everything is subjective. I look at a movie like Saving Private Ryan and feel a much more emotional connection with Hanks and company. Still, this is a more relevant film since the action is still taking place as I write this whereas World War II has been over for 70 years. I have to commend the main four actors: Mark Wahlberg, Taylor Kitsch, Emile Hirsch and Ben Foster as these roles couldn’t have been easy from a physical or professional perspective. I don’t tend to watch war movies that often and if I do, it probably won’t be this one. But I’ll wrap this up by saying that no matter your take on Berg, he did get this one right.  What flare he showed with The Kingdom resonates here as well. Recommended.

Video: How’s it look?

Sometimes having an image that’s this crystal clear is a double-edged sword. Case in point, Lone Survivor looks so good it’s hard not to gaze into the cuts and gashes in the SEAL’s physique and not have your stomach turn a bit. Yes, it’s not real but I’m sure that this can’t be too far removed from what the perils of battle really look like. Presented in a 2.39:1 AVC HD image, Lone Survivor simply reeks of anything and everything that’s High Definition. The texture in the hair and faces, the intricacies of the facial hair, the patterns on their uniforms – stunning.  The color palette is more of a natural, earthy tone which is reflective of the locale.  Anyone looking for a top notch transfer need look no further.

Audio: How’s it sound?

I was in the movie theater around New Year’s seeing The Wolf of Wall Street and as I was walking to the theater, I passed by Lone Survivor and I heard a sampling of this film from the hallway. Yelling, guns firing and a few things blowing up. I thought to myself “that will sound amazing on Blu-ray.” And yes, it does.  As is the case with most any modern war film, this lossless DTS HD Master Audio mix is nothing short of perfection. Grenades blow up, countless guns are fired, people fall down mountains and each and every impact can not only be heard but felt as well.  The little nuances in the surrounds help bring this mix to life with a robust front stage, active LFE’s and everything else seems to be in constant motion. I could go on, but suffice it to say that they got this one right.  It’s amazing.

Supplements: What are the extras?

Universal has offered a sprinkling of extras on the DVD and saved the majority of the features for the Blu-ray, also included are previews for other Universal titles.

DVD Extras

  • Bringing the Story to Light – A brief interview with Berg and his connection with the story and script. We get a few behind the scenes images and an all too brief look at how this made the trip to the screen.
  • The Fallen Heroes of Operation Red Wings – Is just that, we get a three part look at the trio that didn’t make it: Michael Murphy, Matthew Axelson and Danny Dietz. Also included is a Tribute to the Fallen Heroes of Operation Red Wings.

Blu-ray Exclusives

  • Rcreating the Firefight – We get a look at what it took to re-create this important scene, some of the challenges involved and how to make it realistic, yet safe for the actors.
  • Learning the Basics – What’s the best way to humble a Hollywood actor? Send ’em to basic training!  We get a look at some of the physical efforts bestowed on the main quartet of actors a they prepared for their respective roles.
  • Will of the Warrior – The most robust supplement, clocking in at nearly 30 minutes, features SEAL and author of the book Marcus Luttrell. He’s very candid about his novel, and we’re treated to some pretty intense footage.  We see his meeting with Peter Berg, Luttrell’s hesitation to bring the film to screen (unless it was done right) and so on. It’s a very engaging look at some of the behind the scenes things and something that’s been with Luttrell for nearly a decade.
  • The Pashtun Code of Life – Luttrell’s savior, Mohamad Gulab, tells us of the code that he and his people used to save Luttrell’s life.
  • DVD/UltraViolet Copy

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