“Lone Survivor,” the film adaptation of former Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell’s bestselling book of the same name, had a historic weekend at the box office.
“Lone Survivor” finished the weekend as the number one movie in America, bringing in $38.5 million. It bested Disney’s “Frozen,” which came in at number two, earning $15 million in its eighth weekend, and Paramount’s “The Wolf of Wall Street,” earning $9 million in its third weekend.
The opening weekend marked the second biggest January opening ever after the $40.1 million debut of 2008’s “Cloverfield.”
One Texas town had such an overwhelming response to the film, the Grand Theater in Conroe, Texas canceled showings of several box office hits to accommodate the massive demand for “Lone Survivor.” Canceled movies at the 14-screen multiplex included blockbusters like “Wolf of Wall Street” and “Anchorman 2” among multiple other films.
However, it didn’t take long for left-leaning critics to bash the movie, which one movie-goer said, “makes you proud to be an American and proud to support the men and women in our military.”
New York Magazine film critic David Edelstein said the film was “crudely written, rife with cliches, and leaves out anything that would transform a piece of propaganda into a work of art.” Edelstein bemoaned a scene in which a Taliban warlord beheads an Afghan villager “before the eyes of the victim’s son,” saying, “the problem is not that Taliban leaders never behave that way; it’s that cartoon villains do.”
Taliban leaders never behave that way? Really? Seriously?
Another critic, The Atlantic’s Calum Marsh, found the film “propagandistic,” with “aggressively nationalistic” elements, adding, “I suppose the reader should be reminded of Leni Riefenstahl, known for directing Nazi propaganda films for Adolph Hitler.” Marsh also agreed with Edelstein’s critique that the film portrayed the Taliban as “cartoon villainy — the realm of the black hat and the twirling moustache.”
Responding to the progressive crowd, Medal of Honor recipient Dakota Meyer told Fox News’ “The Kelly File” host Megyn Kelly that “what they’re calling ‘propaganda’ is the reality for 0.4 percent of the nation who has gone over there for the last 12 years.”
“There’s nothing glorious about war,” Marcus Luttrell, who wrote “Lone Survivor,” said. “There’s nothing glorious about holding your friends in your arms and watching them die. There’s nothing glorious about having to leave your home for six to eight months while your family’s back here and you’re away.”
He then explained why the brave men and women of the military do what they do and risk their lives for their country. “Bottom line is that there’s bad people everywhere. And every now and again we are going to have to step up to them to make sure that we preserve our way of life,” Luttrell said.
“It’s people like my teammates and I that have to do that, and the men and women in the military. But there’s nothing glorious about it, there’s nothing pro-war — nobody wants war, it’s the most horrible thing in the world,” Luttrell added.
Luttrell said the movie is really about his SEAL team, a brotherhood of men who are all willing to die for one another. He also argued it shows that there are good people everywhere, referring to the Afghan village that protected him during the hellish ordeal.
Most movie critics gave the flick high marks. The Hollywood Reporter chief film critic Todd McCarthy wrote: “Berg’s work here is at the top of his range, as previously displayed in ‘Friday Night Lights’ and his other Middle East-set film, ‘The Kingdom’ ... The film is rugged, skilled, relentless, determined, narrow-minded and focused, everything that a soldier must be when his life is on the line.”
Author and TV and radio personality Glenn Beck said, “As you will see, the most honorable thing a friend can do for his brothers, Marcus Luttrell has done and told this story and made it appropriate for their death. And you will be amazed at the honor of these men. Truly amazed and humbled,” Glenn concluded. “If you don’t walk out of there going, ‘What am I doing with my life?’ ‘What is important to me?’ If you don’t walk out of that movie theater feeling that, I don’t know, you need to watch it again or check yourself into a hospital to see if you have a heart or a soul.”
The film tells the story of a fierce firefight in 2005 in Afghanistan that left three Navy SEALs dead, including Matthew Axelson, who would later receive the Navy Cross. Axelson was played in the film by actor Ben Foster, who received high praise from Donna Axelson, the fallen SEAL’s mother. “He did an amazing job of bringing Matthew to the screen. And after I saw the rough cut in May, I texted Ben and I said, ‘Thank you for bringing my son back to me for a few hours,” said a tearful Axelson.
Mrs. Axelson was asked for her opinion on some criticism of the movie, with some on the left characterizing it as war propaganda. “Hogwash. Marcus [Luttrell] has been very careful about not bringing politics into this at all. This is just a story about what our military men do. Because as an all-volunteer military, these are men and women who want to do this, who believe in America and want to protect us from additional 9/11 kinds of attacks. It has nothing to do with politics. It has to do with the courage and bravery of our military men and women,” she said.
The book and the movie is about real men who have a real love for America and put their lives on the line for their beliefs and for their comrades. It is about people who give their all — the full measure of devotion — so that people like Marsh and Edlestein can exercise their constitutional right to spew whatever they wish in print. As the Chicago Tribune wrote: “We owe these heroes a debt.”
[Information for this article was complied from a number of sources.]
[David Epps is the pastor of the Cathedral of Christ the King, Sharpsburg, GA (www.ctkcec.org). He is the bishop of the Mid-South Diocese which consists of Georgia and Tennessee (www.midsouthdiocese.org) and the Associate Endorser for the Department of the Armed Forces, U. S. Military Chaplains, ICCEC. He may contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.]