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Film / Lone Survivor

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SEAL Team 10

The Film of the Book by the same name, Lone Survivor tells the story of Operation Red Wings and the death of SEAL team 10. Starring Mark Wahlberg and featuring an extended cameo by Marcus Luttrel himself (though not as himself), the story is slightly changed from Luttrel's original telling, and considerably truncated.

This work contains examples of:

  • Action Film, Quiet Drama Scene: Axelson's final conversation with Luttrel. It's quickly broken up by the fight continuing, though.
  • Anyone Can Die: Seeing as this is about an operation that went horribly wrong...
  • Badass Beard: Again, the SEALs. In the film adaptation, at least. This is Truth in Television: Most of the pictures of SEALs who participated in Operation Red Wings show them with beards.
  • Boom, Headshot!: In the film, the SEALs score plenty of headshots, and it takes two for Axelson to finally go down.
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  • Big Damn Heroes: Cruelly subverted, as Kristensen arriving with the other SEALs is treated as a Hope Spot… right up until a rocket-propelled grenade is fired directly into the Chinook's cargo bay and kills everyone aboard.
  • Break the Badass: Dietz breaks down under the stress of the fight, and eventually Luttrel suffers from both injuries and the deaths of his friends.
  • Brick Joke: While going over the rules of engagement and mission plan in the briefing, they discuss their radio protocol. The team is told to call in every two hours, and it is decided that if the team misses two consecutive radio calls, to "wake someone up" - slang for take serious action. Later, the CO is woken up by the team calling in on an unsecure satphone...after missing two consecutive radio calls.
  • Come with Me If You Want to Live: How Luttrel is eventually saved.
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  • Creator Cameo: Director Peter Berg is briefly seen as one of the SEALs jeering during at Shane Patton's dance sequence. Marcus Luttrel himself also appears in several scenes as the big unnamed SEAL with the full beard.
  • Death Glare: When the team captures the goat herders, the young boy watches them carefully, the old man looks at them with worry, and the young man gives them an infuriated Death Glare. Guess which one ends up ratting them out?
  • Defiant to the End: Luttrel when he is nearly executed.
  • Desk Jockey: SEAL newbie, Shane, resents being relegated to this position, wishing to join the battlefield.
  • Determinator: The entire SEAL team.
  • Developing Doomed Characters: Done very well.
  • Died Standing Up: Lt. Murphy in the film, who falls to his knees in death, but never completely to the ground.
  • Dwindling Party: Until all that's left is one lone survivor.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Even if you hadn't heard the story the title is a less-than-subtle hint.
  • From Bad to Worse: The entire film.
  • Gorn: The film is quite graphic with the SEALs' injuries. SEALs don't die easily.
  • Gunship Rescue: Subverted the first time. Played straight the second time.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Murphy sacrifices himself to get a good signal in order to call in help.
  • Hope Spot: Thanks to Lt. Murphy's sacrifice, support aircraft are eventually called in for the surviving SEALs, but one is quickly shot down, killing all onboard, and forcing the other to withdraw immediately.
  • I Just Want to Be Badass: Patton wants nothing more than to join his brothers in arms on the battlefield. Considering the title of the book and film...
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: Justified; the SEALs have had years of training that the Taliban members (who rely on strength in numbers and more firepower) can't possibly compete with. During the first confrontation, not a single member of the team gets hit.
    • Taken almost Up to Eleven during Axelson's death; it takes three bullets for the Taliban just to hit him from close range, whereas he and the rest of his team had been hitting and killing Taliban members from thrice the distance.
  • The Lady's Favour: Dietz's girlfriend wants him to return in one piece so they can remodel their home together.
  • Language Barrier: Naturally between Luttrel and his Pashtun hosts, leading to somewhat humorous exchanges.
  • Le Parkour: In the film, one Taliban member is shown swiftly leaping his way down the mountainous terrain with little effort.
  • Made of Iron: Luttrel, Murphy, Dietz, and Axelson are all wounded literally dozens of times before going down. Truth in Television, as BUD/S training, especially Hell Week, is designed to weed out everybody except men who are both superhumanly physically tough and mentally will not quit.
    PO2 Matt Axelson (with a bullet wound in the back of his head): Marcus, did they really shoot me in the fuckin' head?
    PO2 Marcus Luttrel: Uh...shit, yeah.
    PO2 Matt Axelson (reloading his sidearm): Damn it.
  • Mood Whiplash: Luttrel almost getting executed is immediately followed by a comedic scene where he asks for a knife and, due to the language barrier, initially gets a duck instead. This, in turn, is followed by Luttrel using said knife to dig shrapnel out of his wounded leg and sloooowly pull out a shard of metal nearly the size of his hand.
  • The McCoy: Luttrel, who votes to spare the captured shepherds, thereby dooming the mission.
    • The Spock: Axelson, who suggests killing the shepherds for the sake of the mission.
    • The Kirk: Lt. Murphy, who weighs both sides and ultimately chooses to abandon the mission and spare the shepherds.
  • Nervous Wreck: As things become more and more hopeless, Dietz cracks under the pressure.
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: Luttrel says he's from Texas near the end of the film, but Mark Wahlberg doesn't lose his signature Boston accent.
  • Off with His Head!: Luttrel comes close to suffering this traditional method of execution, but is narrowly saved by friendly Afghan Pashtun villagers.
  • Pet the Dog: Luttrel's scenes with the village boy.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation:
    • The film leaves out the extended period of time Luttrel spent with the villagers, all the relationships he built therein, and how Taliban fighters repeatedly broke in at night to beat and torture him. There is, however, a brief nod to it when he hugs a kid who helped him and says "thank you" right before leaving.
    • In the movie, a battered Marcus Luttrel stands up and limps to Mohammad Gulab's village. In real life, Luttrel had suffered multiple bullet and shrapnel wounds, a broken leg, and fractured vertebrae, and couldn't even get up on his knees. Instead, he crawled to the stream where Gulab found him. Across ten Goddamn miles of the Hindu Kush Mountains. The producers didn't think anyone would believe that.
    • In the book, the team takes a vote to decide the fate of the goatherders, and Luttrel casts the deciding vote after Murphy states he would go along with what Luttrel chose. This sparked a considerable controversy after the book was published, and prompted a statement from Lt. Murphy's father denying his son would allow a vote to determine his action. In the film, the team debates, bickers, begins to vote... and Lt. Murphy steps out from behind a tree and announces in ringing tones that he is in command and will make the decision. Theoretically, the only living person who knows the actual sequence of events is Luttrel. And that's all that can be said on that.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: Quoth the Pashtun villager, "F***! Taliban!"
  • Rule of Drama: Most of the Pashto is untranslated, as Luttrel didn't know it. However, when he's about to be executed by the Taliban and one of the Pashtun invokes Sacred Hospitality to keep him alive, we're briefly given subtitles so that the Taliban not executing him would be reasonable and not seem like a Deus ex Machina.
  • Shirtless Scene: Taylor Kitsch gets one in the beginning of the film.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: In the film, Shane Patton, the young and eager SEAL newbie, is finally flown in to aid our heroes only to be immediately killed by an RPG.
  • Single Tear: Pain-induced.
  • Sole Survivor: Unsuprisingly, Luttrell ends up as the only survivor of SEAL team 10.
  • Training Montage: The film's opening is a montage of real-life SEALs training. And not even the combat or survival training itself, just the Hell Week portion in which candidates are wet, sandy, sleep-deprived, and hypothermic (San Diego winters my be relatively mild, but the water gets cold) for eight days straight, in which most quit voluntarily. Despite it being only a few minutes long, it's more than enough to show how SEALs get to be such badasses.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: The young Taliban member that the team lets go immediately rats them out.
  • Values Dissonance: Invoked. Luttrel is a very conservative Christian from the American South, and has effectively no common ground with the also very conservative Muslim Pashtun. Still, he admires their courage and commitment to their idea of honor, and when describes the the Pashtun attitude towards women, and admits that while their extreme views "may not work for downtown Dallas," it seemed to work well enough for them.


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