Not since Snakes on a Plane has there been a film with such a spoiler alert built into its title. (But how many of the men make it out alive???)
Yes, only one soldier lives to tell this true tale of an Afghanistan mission gone horribly awry. And, as is often the case with the films by Peter Berg (Friday Night Lights, The Kingdom), the film’s politics are all over the map.
It starts with some actual footage of Navy SEAL “Hell week,” including the shameful bell that is rung when a young recruit can’t take any more of the physical and emotional punishment. I thought these opening images displayed some compassion for the sad-faced young men who cried uncle. But as the fictionalized part of our story begins, it becomes clear that Berg was more interested in how strong, how stalwart, how mentally tough the SEALs who made the cut were. He idolizes the band of brothers they become.
These early scenes, on a base camp in Afghanistan, seem to hum with the rhythms of daily life—the gentle hazing, the physical one-upmanship, the good natured grief-giving. When four SEALs are assigned to bring back a Taliban warlord, it seems relatively routine. (One wide-eyed newbie...