(To read all of our Lone Survivor posts, please click here. The most important post is "A List of the Mistakes and Differences Between Lone Survivor (Film), Lone Survivor (Book) and Reality" so read that first if you are new to the blog or this topic.)
The trailer for Lone Survivor came out yesterday, and we’re going to write about it. (H/T Alex Horton) Though we don’t like obsessing about one memoir, since we’ve been writing about Lone Survivor for years, we want to update our readers.
For any new readers who may stumble across this post, our feelings on Lone Survivor summarized in three sentences: 1. This memoir has numerous inaccuracies at worse (or several heavily disputed problems at best). 2. Luttrell pushes his conservative politics, using the deaths of his fellow SEALs to push this viewpoint. 3. Luttrell misinforms the public about rules of engagement, again using the deaths of his fellow SEALs to push this viewpoint.
Without further ado, our thoughts on the trailer:
The Location/Scenery - The Korengal Valley really does look like that. That said, the Korengal valley looks unlike any other place in Afghanistan. This Dietz painting for the 2-503rd from our time in the Korengal captures the sense of the trees pretty well.
In all, great job, location scout.
The Facts - It appears that the film has moderated some of the more glaring errors from the memoir. For instance, the mission has become “Red Wings” like the hockey team, and not “Operation Redwing”, as it appears on the cover of the Lone Survivor memoir.
The vote disappeared? - I told Eric C when we started writing this post that I didn’t want to do the comic-book fanboy meme of disparaging a movie before I had seen it simply based on the trailer. That, however, applies to the good and the bad. Based off a couple of snippets of dialogue in the trailer, it appears that in this version Lieutenant Mike Murphy makes the decision to release the goat herders on his own, after taking input from the team. This would be nearly perfect leadership, and matches the story his family tells.
This is not how the story goes in the memoir. In the memoir, Luttrell casts the deciding vote, and blames his vote in part on liberals and the media.
The central problem remains - Rules of engagement are not simple. In fact, no use of ROE can be boiled down to a simple yes or no decision. Very, very few ethical conundrums have only two options. Yet this movie will likely boil down the situation with the goat herders on the top of that hill to, “Release the goat herders or kill them” and that debate will influence more Americans than any other thing about ROE. I hate that a complicated and effective tool will be so simplistically critiqued. (As it was in the book.) From this limited information--again I hate only using a trailer--I am not optimistic.
The Size of Enemy Forces - In this trailer, someone says, “That’s not ten guys. That’s an Army.” Later in the trailer, the enemy forces don’t appear to be that large. Elsewhere in the trailer, the movie mentions the number “200” as to the size of a possible enemy force. For more on the size of the opposing force, read this post or this Marine Corps Gazette article.
What parts will the movie cover? - Obviously, the entirety of the Lone Survivor memoir won’t make it into the film. This has more to do with the limitations of cinema than anything else. The choices Peter Berg makes could create an Oscar contender or an action film. How much of the movie happens before versus after the central attack? Local Afghans saved and sheltered Luttrell and it will be interesting how much of that makes it in the film. (And we are waiting with baited breath to see if Luttrell includes the Iraq scenes from Lone Survivor.)
Will the politics make it into the film? The trailer doesn’t use the words, “mainstream media”, “liberal”, “rules of engagement” and other conservative talking points that litter the memoir. Will the movie use those words or did Peter Berg censor Marcus Luttrell?