A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
Positive Role Models & Representations
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Lone Survivor tells the true story of a 2005 Navy SEAL mission in Afghanistan gone terribly wrong. It features brutal, bloody violence, with guns, shooting, gory wounds, and many deaths, including major characters. The men use some sexual innuendo, as well as very strong language, including "f--k," "s--t," and "c--k." The movie is very intense, yet also very moving. It shows training footage and photos of real SEALs, including the real participants in this story. It also goes into a little detail about the Afghani tribe that rescued the last survivor, despite the danger they faced in doing so. Some parents won't mind bringing teens to this movie to demonstrate the bravery, heroism, and teamwork of the SEALs, but other parents may be worried that teens will want to head to the recruiting office afterward.
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What's the story?
In 2005, a team of four Navy SEALs is sent on a mission called "Operation Red Wings." Their task is to take out a high-ranking Taliban leader, who is hiding somewhere in an Afghanistan mountain range. The SEALs -- Lieutenant Michael P. Murphy (Taylor Kitsch), Marcus Luttrell (Mark Wahlberg), Matthew Axelson (Ben Foster), and Danny Dietz (Emile Hirsch) -- locate him, and settle in to wait for nightfall. Unfortunately, three goatherders accidentally discover them; Murphy decides to let them go and to abort the mission. Unfortunately, before they can reach safety, the alerted Taliban begin a brutal chase and shootout. A lone man escapes, but is discovered by some Afghan Pashtun villagers. Wounded and exhausted, his fate is now in their hands.
Is it any good?
Nothing in writer/director Peter Berg's career would indicate that he had this kind of intense, moving, and brutal movie in him. Not even The Kingdom, another story inspired by the wars in the Middle East. LONE SURVIVOR starts off with some Navy SEAL training footage and ends with photos of the real participants, but in-between, the movie is purely visceral, generating adrenaline, alarm, and even tears.
Berg manages to avoid high-minded seriousness while still respecting the material. The actors build genuine chemistry and warmth with their discussions of personal lives and things back home; viewers can understand who they are. Berg avoids too much camera-shaking in his depictions of the bloody battle, emphasizing pain, shock, and scrambling. A tumble from a high rock, for example, is absolutely vicious. He builds adrenaline without tipping too far into either excitement or horror. And the ending is genuinely touching, and genuinely earned. You can't look away.
Talk to your kids about ...
- Families can talk about the movie's intense, brutal, bloody violence. What effect did it have? Did it seem realistic? Was it necessary in telling this story?
- How does this movie make the Navy SEALs look? Do they come across as warriors or regular people? Does it make you want to join them? Do you think that's the intention of the movie?
- Would you say that this movie is an anti-war movie or a pro-war movie, or somewhere in-between? Why?
- In theaters: December 27, 2013
- On DVD or streaming: June 3, 2014
- Cast: Ben Foster, Mark Wahlberg, Taylor Kitsch
- Director: Peter Berg
- Studio: Universal Pictures
- Genre: Drama
- Run time: 127 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: strong bloody war violence and pervasive language
- Last updated: March 16, 2020
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