• Fri, Jan 10 - 3:12 pm ET

Lone Survivor Makes You Question Your Own Morals, Proves To Be Pretty Powerful Propaganda

Lone Survivor SEAL team Mark Wahlberg__1389383897_198.255.187.52

Even though you go into Lone Survivor knowing that there’s only one lone survivor, you start to hope that you misinterpreted the title halfway through the movie. “Maybe it means metaphorical survivor,” I said to myself, “perhaps, they all make it, but maybe only one survives.” Of course that’s not the case. Four men go on the mission in Afghanistan and only one makes it out. Hence the name, Lone Survivor.

For that reason, it’s an incredibly sad movie from the start. Made only sadder by the fact that it’s based on the true story of a failed mission to take down a Taliban leader. When these people die in the movie, you have to remember that they died in real life. Leaving behind real friends and real family and real lives back home in America. On one hand, that’s the cost of war. On the other hand, it’s always disturbing to take a moment and remember that everyone’s who died over there has real friends, families and lives in our country. These people aren’t just causalities, but human beings who are missed and mourned. While that’s something that should always be on our mind when we hear about troops dying, if often isn’t. “Oh,” we sigh upon hearing about large amounts of people dying, “that’s sad.” Then we go back to our every day lives, carrying on as normal. If nothing else this movie — and I guess any war movie that develops its characters well — reminds us of that troops are people.

But that’s not the message of Lone Survivor. It isn’t meant to make you think about the troops as individual people with individual lives. Rather it’s meant to make you think about the rules of war and more specifically, why they’re not always so black and white. The SEAL team ends up in the deadly firefight against the Taliban because they did the right thing. While hiding out in the mountains, surveying an Afghani town, the marines — Marcus (Mark Wahlberg), Michael (Taylor Kitsch), Danny (Emile Hirsch), Matthew (Ben Foster) — capture two teenagers and an elderly shepard who come across their surveillance site. They’re faced with an almost impossible decision. Do they release them, knowing that they’ll tell the Taliban their location? Or do they kill them, despite the fact they’re innocent? As I said before, they make the right decision — to release them. That’s a SEAL rule — don’t kill innocent people. Naturally the teens run down the mountain and alert the Taliban, who immediately come up into the mountains to hunt down and murder the men.

While the four men are able to hold off the Taliban at first, it quickly becomes clear that they’re completely outnumbered and that they’re pretty much destined to die. One by one, they’re picked off. And as each one died, I thought, “ugh, if only they’d killed those kids, they wouldn’t be in this situation right now.” I had to force myself to remember that you can’t kill innocent people, especially when they stumble across you on their own land. It’s just not fair. In the same way that that the SEAL team has families back home, the teen boys do too. It’s not their fault that they’re living in a place that’s run by the Taliban.

But I’m pretty sure that’s the point of this movie — to make you question the rules. To make you question your own morals of what’s right and what’s wrong and what you would do in that situation. And I didn’t like that. While I’m all for getting new perspective on situations, I felt that this movie manipulated my emotions. Of course I want the Americans to live! But the real situation as well the real story of this failed mission’s more complicated than what we see here. It’s not as simple as four brave Americans versus a bunch of nameless bad guys.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not in any way saying that these men should’ve died. In an ideal world, no one should die! I’m just saying that this movie comes off as war propaganda designed to make people feel guilty about questioning war time decisions that result in the death of innocent non-US civilians. Maybe all the talk about drones in the past year is making me connect this movie to messages that aren’t meant to connect. Maybe it is just the story of a guy who survives despite all the odds. But I can’t shake the feeling that we’re supposed to leave this movie feeling differently about the rules of war and what we need to do to bring Americans home safely.

(Photo: Digital Trends)

From Our Partners

Share This Post:
  • Quinny

    Lt Murphy posthumously was awarded the Medal of Honor (the highest military honor in the United States) while SO2 Axelson and SO2 Dietz were posthumously awarded the Navy Cross; Luttrell also received the Navy Cross. Additionally, fifteen other Navy SEALs were killed when a helicopter was shot down by an RPG.

    People are very quick to assume that anytime a film comes about the military it’s all propaganda, but in this case it truly is not, which is very evident to those of us who have read Luttrell’s book. He specifically states that this was meant to honor the nineteen men that we lost that day-the men who were his best friend and brothers. There were definitely some exaggerations and dramatizations but the film was as true to the true events as a two hour movie could be. I truly believe that Luttrell’s intention was to show the world these men, his brothers, in both their darkest and finest moments-Murphy was his best friend and Dietz or Axelson was his twin brother’s. THe book gives so much more insight onto this and is truly worth the read if you don’t mind sobbing in front of a bunch of strangers on an airplane like I did.

    My father is a retired marine and my oldest brother just wrapped up a year long deployment Afghanistan, and I think most people within this community that as hard and sad as it is to watch a film like this, it’s nice when these men who fully deserve this recognition but would never ask for it actually do get it. I hope that this film reminds people who ignorant and insensitive the remarks Kanye West recently made are.

  • Nikki

    I didn’t get the sense of propaganda from it, and I recently saw an interview where a reporter went so far as to tell Mr. Luttrell that the people with him died for nothing that day because they didn’t accomplish their mission. I personally would have lost it, but he explained that they had been trained to defend their country and die for it if need be, that was their job and that was what they did. (paraphrasing here, he said it much better) I came out of the film with a deeper respect for the oath that soldiers take to defend this country and the lengths they are willing to go so I can sit at my computer and respond to your article. I think that was much of the intent as the Quinny stated, to honor the sacrifice of those men and the courage they displayed.

    I feel like it was a story that needed to be told,, because too often as you said we forget that the statistics are actually people, not just pieces to be moved on a board. And in light of recent allegations in Gate’s book it seems like all of the politicians and I do mean ALL need to be reminded of that too.

    I do think that you are confusing some of the things currently going on with the message of the movie. I didn’t see it as a way to justify killing innocent people in war at all. I simply saw it as a way to honor the sacrifice and courage of a group of men.

  • Jennifer

    You are a disgrace to this country. Whose side are you own anyway? America’s or people who would kill you without even a second thought? Obviously you have no clue what its like in Afghanistan if you consider this movie propaganda. That’s exactly how the fighting is in the mountains. All you have to do is google gun fights in Afghanistan and there are plenty videos that show things just like the movie. You need to wake up to reality. Yes the Taliban and many other Muslim terrorist groups behead people. There is at least 1 person beheaded in the Middle East everyday and most of those are Christians and moderate Muslims. Get your head out of your butt. Its not hard to find out whats going on over their since the terrorist love to video their slaughter.

    • Alexis Rhiannon

      Please bear in mind that this is an opinion piece reviewing a movie, before you send yourself to the hospital with heart palpitations.

    • Jennifer

      Yeah Im sorry. It just upsets me that people like him want to bash the military and people in it. You dont have to agree with the wars but dont bash people who are only there because they were order to be and are volunteers to do so.