Lone Survivor

Broadly speaking, Hollywood war movies since the Reagan era tend to fall into three camps: bloody fantasies, a la the Rambo series, that center on lone, superhuman warrior-heroes; relatively bloodless spectacles in the vein of Top Gun, showcasing the state-of-the-art technology developed by the U.S. military-industrial complex; and artful blockbusters, like Saving Private Ryan and Black Hawk Down, that feature immersive re-creations of combat and seem designed to appeal to both prowar and antiwar viewers. The most interesting thing about Lone Survivor, a Hollywood war movie opening in Chicago this weekend, is that it doesn’t really fit in any of these subgenres. Writer-director Peter Berg (Friday Night Lights, Hancock) seems to have taken cues from such 1940s ensemble action dramas as Howard Hawks’s Air Force (1943) and William Wellman’s The Story of G.I. Joe (1945), movies that aren’t about war so much as the camaraderie, sacrifice, and thankless work that characterize life in the armed forces. Read more.