‘Lone Survivor’ Makes Authenticity A Top Priority

December 31, 2013
‘Lone Survivor’ Makes Authenticity A Top Priority

Mark Wahlberg as SO2 Marcus Luttrell / Photo: Universal Pictures

The story of Marcus Luttrell and the battle he and his Navy SEAL brothers endured during a special operation in Afghanistan is equal parts spectacular and heartbreaking. It’s a testament to patriotism, brotherhood, and how far extraordinary men are able to push their minds and bodies when one of their brothers is in peril.

The movie-adaption of Marcus Luttrell’s best-selling memoir by the same name retells the story of a joint-military endeavor named "Operation Red Wings." The story chronicles what took place on June 28th, 2005, in the Hindu Kush region of Afghanistan. Navy SEALS SO2 Marcus Luttrell, LT Michael P. Murphy, SO2 Danny Dietz and SO2 Matthew Axelson were dispatched to find and capture Taliban leader Ahmad Shah. Shah had been responsible for the deaths of 20 Marines, and the SEALS were sent to take him down.

The movie opens up at a remote Air Force base in Afghanistan, and you’re given a taste of the day-to-day life of a SEAL. We see some workouts, some correspondence with home, and even some rookie hazing. “I’ve always been drawn to the psychology of people who are willing to put themselves into violent situations where any reasonable human being would run as quickly as they could away form it,” writer/director Peter Berg said in a recent interview with Film Independent. The respect that Berg has for these brave men is palpable throughout the course of the movie.

Berg went to great lengths to ensure that the movie was as authentic as possible. He studied autopsy reports, after-action reports from the military, and met with the families of the deceased. He also made certain to involve Marcus Luttrell in all aspects of the production process. As if that wasn’t enough, there were also a team of 8-10 SEALS on hand at all times to fact-check all behavior of the actors.

Mark Wahlberg was given the daunting task of portraying Marcus Luttrell. When asked about the responsibility, he said that his motivation was “to get it right, you want to make Marcus proud, you want do the families of Danny Dietz and Axe and Mike Murphy, and the rest of the guys who never got to come home or walk off that mountain. You want to do them justice, and that’s a huge responsibility.” His moving physical and emotional performance in this film is proof that his motivation was successful.

Wahlberg also recalled that Navy SEALS weren’t exactly like other movie consultants. When a SEAL tells you to do something a certain way, you do it. “These guys [the SEALS] had free reign to call BS on anything that was wrong, even if it was in the middle of a huge action sequence.” He then added “we relied on their support to make it as authentic and realistic as possible.”

Navy SEALS have a very small and tight-knit community . According to Luttrell, “ we speak out own language in our community. It was so critical that these guys understood the language, walked talked moved, used their weapons systems just like we would.”

While reflecting on his movie in an interview with Movies Coming Soon, Peter Berg sums up his movie perfectly: “At the end of the day, this film is about brotherhood, it’s about sacrifice, and it’s about the human connection and the human quality of loving your brother.”

Lone Survivor hits theaters nationwide on January 10.