Lone Survivor

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
Lone Survivor Movie Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
Brutal, powerful, ultimately moving true Navy SEAL story.
  • R
  • 2013
  • 127 minutes

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 12 reviews

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 32 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

The movie wrestles with a profound moral quandary and viewers can decide what's right and wrong for themselves. War is depicted as ugly and brutal, but the Navy SEALs also show the considerable courage, strength, and dedication it takes to make the team, which makes them seem highly admirable. While some parents will find the patriotism, sacrifice, and heart the soldiers display incredibly moving, others might be concerned that war and the military appears in too positive a light, and might come off like a recruitment movie.

Positive Role Models & Representations
The characters themselves are strong, brave, and work together, but they're just as flawed as anyone. The movie introduces us to a group of Afghan Pashtun villagers who protect one of the Americans in spite of the danger to themselves. Their laws of hospitality and protection go back generations, and are highly admirable.
The relentless battle violence is brutally realistic, shocking, and horrific. The battle does not go as it might in a normal war movie. Characters are shot in every conceivable part of their bodies, sprain their ankles, fall from cliffs, lose their fingers, bash their heads, and pass out. The fight is chaotic and desperate, with a great deal of blood and many bloody wounds. A character digs bloody shrapnel out of his wounded leg. Many characters die. A helicopter explodes, killing a number of men inside.
We hear plenty of sexual innuendo ("pushing peter," etc.) among the men during the movie's first half, before the fighting starts.
Language is very strong and constant, including "f--k," "s--t," "c--k," "balls," "crap," "bitch," "hell," "shut up," "muff," etc.
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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byThe Adult Speaker April 15, 2014

Appropriate for 13

I took my 13 year old to see this movie, and I was uncomfortable taking my son to this movie as his father, however this movie moved my son and I. There was vio... Continue reading
Parent of a 14 and 16-year-old Written byBret Friend January 17, 2014

Great movie!

I should start this review by saying that without hesitation I took both my 16 yr old son as well as my 14 yr old daughter. I had read the book, and knew there... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old February 7, 2021

Loved It

I loved this film so much. there was a lot of violence but older tweens can handle it. Plus there was a ton of language. it is a good film for older and mature... Continue reading
Written byAnonymous October 30, 2020

It Was Ok

It was really violent, a lot of gore, but was not accurate as the true story. Marcus never fought shah. He did not see the helicopter go down but other then tha... Continue reading

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?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love true stories

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