A writer in Salon complains that the targeted Taliban commander “is presented as a terrible guy,” and we don’t learn enough about the Taliban fighters attacking the SEALs, or as he calls them, “some dudes from an Afghan village about whom we know nothing.”
Yes, if only we knew whether or not the Taliban commander, Ahmad Shah, had a troubled upbringing, that would change everything. Perhaps the Taliban version of the movie could present fuller, more sympathetic portraits of its fighters seeking to plunge their country into renewed medieval darkness — if, that is, the Taliban believed in movies.
In perhaps the most preposterous critique, a critic in LA Weekly says the attitude of the SEALs in the movie is “Brown people bad, American people good.” What a stupid smear. The proximate cause of the impossible situation of the SEALs is precisely their decision to let a few unarmed “brown people” go. Besides, not all “brown people” in the film are bad. Some of them are awe-inspiringly merciful and brave. Of course, the main thrust of the Taliban’s war is against other “brown people,” whom they intimidate and kill in their quest to dominate.
It is certainly true that “Lone Survivor” is not Fellini. What it lacks in dialogue, it makes up for in explosions and gunfire. It is about as subtle as an RPG round. But it captures something important: the otherworldly fearlessness and grit of our best fighters.
If this story — the inevitable cinematic embellishments, aside — weren’t true, you would be hard-pressed to believe it.
These are extraordinary men, and the tale of their valor deserves to be told over and over again, whatever you think of the Afghan War or the broader war on terror.
Several years ago, Hollywood made a bunch of tendentious anti-Iraq War movies, all of which flopped.
“Lone Survivor” is one of the few recent war movies that have been a success at the box office. It’s not hard to understand why. It takes a perverse hostility to all that is great and good in the U.S. military not to find it gripping and inspiring.
— Rich Lowry may be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.