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In June 2005, four Navy SEALs - Marcus Luttrell (Mark Wahlberg), Mike Murphy (Taylor Kitsch), Matt Axelson (Ben Foster) and Danny Dietz (Emile Hirsch) - on a covert mission to kill Taliban leader Ahmed Shahd (Yousuf Azami) are ambushed by the enemy in the mountains of Afghanistan. Faced with an impossible moral decision, the small band is isolated from help and surrounded by a much larger force of Taliban ready for war. As they confront unthinkable odds together, the four men find reserves of strength and resilience as they stay in the fight to the finish. (Based on a true story)

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
The gut wrenching knowledge that the film is based on real events elevates this war drama - not that it needs elevating, being a confidently made tribute to the men involved. Indeed, the whole code of courage and soldierly brotherhood. Apart from the minor irritant of hand held camerawork in some places, the film is intense and often harrowing, balanced by the moments of surprising tenderness, among the men themselves and also in the field.

The ensemble cast delivers handsomely, working with a screenplay that tells the story with considerable force. It doesn't seem to matter that a lot of the dialogue is lost under gunfire and shouting. (When the DVD is released, we can watch it with English subtitles...)

As many old soldiers will recognise, the story is not just about a fire fight with the enemy: it's more about the sense of brothers in arms helping each other to survive. This is what makes the film powerful, and more satisfying in a terrible sort of way, than a fictional action thriller where the shootout is the climax.

Especially effective - and affecting - are the scenes in the Afghan village where Luttrell (Mark Wahlberg) takes refuge at one point, and his interactions with a father and his small son.

The film doesn't glorify war, it pays tribute to courage and determination; while it doesn't play politics, it does show the Taliban as vicious, bloodthirsty and merciless. And if you detect a smidge of US national pride, that's understandable, too.

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(US, 2013)

CAST: Mark Wahlberg, Taylor Kitsch, Emile Hirsch, Ben Foster, Eric Bana, Alexander Ludwig, Jerry Ferrara, Scott Elrod, Ali Suliman, Yousif Azami

PRODUCER: Sarah Aubrey, Randall Emmett, Akiva Goldsman, Norton Herrick, Barry Spikings

DIRECTOR: Peter Berg

SCRIPT: Peter Berg (memoir by Marcus Luttrell)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Tobias A. Schliessler

EDITOR: Colby Parker Jr

MUSIC: Steve Jablonsky


RUNNING TIME: 121 minutes


AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: February 20, 2014

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