As a moviegoer who enjoys storytelling and scriptwriting, I normally balk at any film that is filled with too many obscenities – not only because I don’t want to hear the constant gutter talk, but also because obscenities are too often cheap substitutes for well-written dialogue and capable acting.

So a movie with 160 f-words would normally make my no-see list.


But for “Lone Survivor,” I made an exception. And after having seen it theaters on Friday, I’ll gladly watch it again, f-words or no.

For the film that blasted its way to the second-highest January opening ever and is being hailed as the best war flick since “Saving Private Ryan” is that good. Frankly, I liked it better than “Saving Private Ryan.”

The film, based on the true story of Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell, depicts first the rigors of Navy SEAL training, but then moves quickly to the account of Operation Red Wings in Afghanistan, where Luttrell and three of his SEAL brethren were scouting out Taliban forces from a secluded mountain position when three shepherds stumbled upon them.

The SEALs had to make an excruciating decision: Kill the shepherds (one was a boy) to protect their position, or release them and risk the natives informing nearby Taliban forces.

Their fateful decision ultimately brings an army of enemies down upon their heads, and, cut off from communications, the SEALs were left to fend for themselves against impossible odds.

In the end, not just the SEALs, but a total of 19 Americans lost their lives in the desperate circumstances of Operation Red Wings.

Yet “Lone Survivor” is more than just a tragic tale or an action film. It’s a story of courage and brotherhood and reveals the humanity of not only the Americans, but also the native Afghanis who live even to this day under the oppressive fist of the Taliban.

The film is exciting, brutal and gripping. Though I’ve never been to the front lines, it feels realistic, and is thus both horrifying and incredibly tense. It gives audiences just enough character development to make you care about the SEALs, then dives headlong into edge-of-your-seat, nail-biting action.

By the end, most audiences will leave inspired … and grateful.

Audiences will also catch a hint of the frustration many in our armed forces feel over the games politicians play with oversight and rules of engagement – shenanigans that might play well before the anti-war media, but end up costing American lives overseas.

The movie makes it clear that leftists simply don’t understand the brutality of war and that Americans die because of rules of engagement that appease bleeding-heart liberals but compromise the safety and effectiveness of our soldiers.

“Lone Survivor” contends Operation Red Wings went awry and cost the lives of 19 soldiers precisely because the SEALs hesitated to do what obviously needed to be done, for fear of how it would look “on CNN.”

“It’s nobody’s business what we do,” one of the SEALs says. “We do what we have to do.”

Only … they didn’t. And 19 soldiers died.

If a moviegoer says there’s no way they’ll sit through 160 f-words, I completely understand. If a ticket buyer can’t stomach brutal bloodshed and realistic war violence, I get it.

But unlike many Hollywood films, the blood and obscenities in “Lone Survivor” aren’t thrown in for shock or cheap entertainment value. They’re there to tell a story. A real story. And in the case of “Lone Survivor,” it’s one amazing story.

Content advisory:

  • “Lone Survivor,” rated R, contains a total of roughly 180 obscenities and profanities.
  • The film has very little sexuality, consisting of a wedding kiss, some shirtless guys and a few sexual, albeit lewd, lines of dialogue.
  • Once the fighting begins, “Lone Survivor” is exceptionally violent and bloody. Though it doesn’t stylize or glamorize bloodshed and brutality as many action films do, there are plenty of moments that will disgust those with squeamish stomachs and make even a hardened man say, “Ow!”
  • There are a handful of religious references in “Lone Survivor,” including men singing “Silent Night,” a cross tattoo, discussion of a mission being “cursed” and whether or not “God is looking out for us.” It’s all very natural-feeling, given the circumstances, and doesn’t comprise a significant theme in the film.

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