I sat in the theatre yesterday afternoon watching Lone Survivor. I’d already read the book, sniffling and sobbing and cheering my way through it. How could the movie compare? Hollywood never gets it right. Still, how could I not go see it? It felt disrespectful even to consider not going.
The movie held me in an iron grip the entire hundred and twenty-one minutes. As the credits rolled, I sat in the same stunned silence as the rest of the audience. Some applauded, and the rest of us joined in half-heartedly. It wasn’t that the movie wasn’t applause-worthy. We were just in some weird time warp, where our realities were still stuck in the big screen.
Why did this movie have such a powerful effect on me? I knew how it ended. Anyone who knows the story of the tragedy that befell SEAL Team 10 during Operation Red Wings in 2005 knows how the story ends. The title kind of gives it away. So why was I whispering in the dark, “You can do it! Come on! Just a few more steps!”
While not 100% historically accurate, the movie was tastefully done. How can I say that – it was violent, and bloody, and filled with death. But the heroes of SEAL Team 10 were portrayed as human beings who, when faced with a terrible moral dilemma, even knowing what they should do, chose to honor the rules of engagement of the Geneva Convention – realizing, I suspect, the decision would inevitably lead where it did. And it portrayed these astonishing specops warfighters as they deserve to be remembered: a breed apart, with a toughness of mind and spirit found only in their brothers-in-arms. Men who don’t quit, because they don’t know how to quit. Even after being shot three or four times and knowing his life’s-blood is spilling onto the rocks. Knowing his next shot might just be the one that saves his teammate, and therefore takes that next shot, and the next, ignoring the imminence of his own death. Making peace with his Creator while struggling to get to higher ground, better cover – because he does not know how to quit.
The acting did proper homage to the fallen. Some Hollywood drama was added, of course, primarily around the final firefight, which never happened. (There are several good sources out there which dissect fact versus fiction in the movie, including this one.)
Still, this time?
This time, Hollywood got it right.