1 January 2014 | siderite
Brutal and realistic, it opens eyes
If there is one thing that this film will accomplish is to make you feel something. I assure you you will not get bored watching it. Now, what you will feel will no doubt be up to you.
For myself, I felt mostly rage against a botched mission in an ineffective war. Raytheon should be annoyed that a movie about a mission failed primarily because of communication issues showed their red flashy brand on the comms equipment.
I wanted the characters to succeed, to survive, but I could not ignore the fact that they were soldiers being there only to kill an enemy commander. Having all Americans die in slow motion while scores of Taliban died instantly and kind of stupidly didn't help with the empathy. Also showing pictures of dead soldiers with their families with a pathetic American remake of Bowie's Heroes singing in the background at the end of the movie just fueled more rage. People in the field try to carry out their mission and survive, while their deaths become political and mediatic material. I didn't enjoy that.
On the other hand, the fights were realistic, the subject based on real events and, outside the pathetism described above, I did not detect a bias towards one side or the other. You will witness two hours of low tech war in all of its horror and stupidity. The actors also play well, although I like Mark Wahlberg in almost everything he does.
The story, while showing the preparation, courage and resilience of four soldiers in enemy territory, also showed other things, like the logistical blunders that lead to stupid deaths, over-reliance on technology that doesn't really work as you expect and how choices have consequences on the ground that are beyond the ability of normal courts to understand, whether looking from the legal or moral angle.
I liked a lot about the movie how it made you think long after it was over. What would have happened if they just killed the herders? What would have happened if they tied them up, went a bit down, risked a sniper shot at the enemy commander, then just ran? What would have happened if the Pashtuni would have ignored the wounded American or would have killed the Taliban scout force when they came to them? How would the mission have gone if the four guys would have known from the get go that they would be completely alone, with no support or hope for extraction?
Overall, a very emotional movie, two hours long, that shows more a general type of heroism than one with a specific purpose. Nicely directed and acted. A bit over dramatic, but then that's to be expected. Worth watching.