December 13, 2013

A SEAL Sniper Instructor’s Review of The Movie Lone Survivor

If you don’t want to read on then I’ll just save you the trouble, and get straight to the point. It’s a great movie, go see it.

I was invited to attend a screening of Lone Survivor in New York last week, and invited a few friends of SOFREP to attend (including Ian our radio producer) with me. I was excited about the movie but secretly hoping Peter Berg did right by Marcus, and his book since the movie has produced some drama surrounding Dan Bilzerian’s role in the film. The movie didn’t disappoint.  Few movies in Hollywood do right by the military men (and women) they represent, but this isn’t one of those.

The scene where they make initial Taliban contact on the mountain slope is intense, and my back, and head hurt just watching the falling scenes.

My only criticism? I thought it was a mistake to put Marcus in a supporting role in the film, it felt awkward to me to see him on screen as one of the SEALs knowing he was the hero of the story.  This may be my own personal bias, and because I know, and trained Marcus when he went through the SEAL sniper course.

Ben Foster get’s a 5.0 eval from me on his portrayal of Matt “Axe” Axelson. I know Axe as one of my personal student mentor candidates from sniper school, a great guy, and the consummate operator. Ben nailed it, I felt like I was watching Axe all over again.

One of my favorite parts of the book is the complex cultural dynamic that existed (ultimately saved Luttrell’s life) between the local tribe elders, and the Taliban. If you haven’t done your research on Pashtunwali, the un-written code of ethics that govern the Pashtun, it’s worth looking into.

Berg, and his actors did a great job honoring the men that gave their lives on that lonely Afghan mountainside.

Go see it, and let me know what you think.


About the Author

is a former U.S. Navy SEAL with combat deployments to Afghanistan, and Iraq. During his last tour he served as the west coast sniper Course Manager at the Naval Special Warfare Center. He is Editor-in-Chief of, and a New York Times best selling author (The Red Circle & Benghazi: The Definitive Report). His writing has been featured in print, and digital media worldwide. You can follow him on twitter here.

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  • gipbmac

    I was finally able to see this movie yesterday.   There wasn't a single solitary sound made as everyone exited the theater.  The entire audience sat, paused a few minutes before exiting.   I can't remember being so "moved" by a film as I was with this one BY FAR.  It's simply a movie you HAVE to go see - words cannot describe the way it will move you, you have to experience it!  So amazing - the perfect example true Honor, Valor, Respect and Dignity - could go on and on.  Such an amazing life story!

  • rio197

    Marcus' cameo.

  • MarineFO

    Saw it last night in LA.  As far as action this puts just about any modern war movie to shame. They did a great job of showing the pain these guys endured during the mission and the brotherhood they felt for each other. There were some parts in the book I would have like to seen portrayed; The two kills on the cliff after he awoke in the hole and the disease infested bottle, that was funny.  Over all this is an excellent movie but maybe see it with the boys.  I saw it with a date and she was horrified.  I will see this again when its released to the GP and will for sure own this on DVD.

  • Ishaan

    JohnChristopher1 "deserve to be waterboarded, struck by lightning, hacked up on the spot, and buried in an unmarked grave." Or just sent to live in a place like Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran or North Korea. Then they will really understand what these warriors really fight for.

  • JohnChristopher1

    Re the review at Hollywood and Fine: "documentary footage showing actual Navy SEAL training....As you watch young men and women wash out of the program...." Women? "pro-USA propaganda" It is. And there's nothing wrong with that. On the other hand, the review from the L.A. Weekly, "jingoistic snuff film about a Navy SEAL squadron...bleeds blood red, bone-fracture white, and bruise blue...a quasi-political exaggeration of a slasher film: the cellphones that don't work, the rescuers just out of reach, the killers chasing our victims through the woods," deserve to be waterboarded, struck by lightning, hacked up on the spot, and buried in an unmarked grave.