In 2005, a 4-man Navy SEALs team is tasked to drop into Afghanistan near a Pashtun village and eliminate a high value Taliban leader Ahmad Shah. The mission is called Operation Red Wings and the recon team is comprised of team leader Michael P. “Murph” Murphy (Kitsch), the snipers Marcus Luttrell (Wahlberg) and Matthew “Axe” Axelson (Foster); and the communications specialist Danny Dietz (Hirsch). After they’re dropped in, they are to check in at various times and locations but the tall mountains with deep valleys make communications a nightmare.
They make a positive ID of the target and while resting, three goat herders surprise the team. The soldiers subdue the Afghanis and have a very tough decision to make: kill the herders and protect the mission or untie the herders to let the chips fall as they may. Murph decided to maintain the rules of engagement and release them because they are civilians. As the team treks up the hill, one of the herders get the Taliban in their village below and now these insurgents are searching for the Americans. That makes 4 vs. an army.
Peter Berg, the director of The Kingdom, has taken the helm of this film as both the writer and director. It stars Mark Wahlberg, Taylor Kitsch, Ben Foster, and Emile Hirsch in this gritty military film. It’s based on Marcus Luttrell’s The New York Times bestselling memoir about his life and what happened during the mission. The film received two Academy Award nominations for Best Sound Editing and Best Sound Mixing.
Luttrell was a military coordinator on the film because Berg wanted this movie to be as authentic as possible. The cast was also trained extensively on their weapons and working as a team so that the visual commends of a SEAL team, reloading their weapons and even their tactical grouping became muscle memory. This allowed Peter Berg to achieve what he wanted from the film. It also was to make sure that the movie paid tribute to the fallen soldiers lost on that mission by being accurate.
It’s an incredible story with a lot more depth than what’s just on the surface. When the team first meets the goat herders, there is a look of disgust that one of the herders gives the American soldiers. Dietz and Axe had the same look like they weren’t looking at people, just something in the way of their objective. Also when Lutrell is brought to the Pashtun village by Mohammad Gulab, he thinks that everyone one there wants to kill him rather than help him. Unbeknownst to Lutrell, the Pashtun people live by a code that basically says that if someone needs help, they will die or kill to defend the people who are their guests. To this day, he is still friends with his savior, Mohammad Gulab.
Mark Wahlberg as Marcus Luttrell
Taylor Kitsch as Michael ‘Murph’ Murphy
Emile Hirsch as Danny Dietz
Ben Foster as Matt ‘Axe’ Axelson
The film is transferred in a crisp 1080p AVC video with an aspect ratio of 2.40:1. The entire film has been shot in daylight with beautiful coloring. The foliage is an eye-popping green and there many different hues of brown from their camouflage to the dusty rocks. Because of the wooded and rocky terrain, it allows the camera to pick up every single detail. The lines are sharp with clean contrasting that is impressive. The contrasting makes the blacks look rich and inky as well. Also, the skin tones are very natural and not muddled at all. There isn’t a single fault in the transfer at all.
Like the video, the audio for the release is simply awesome. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 audio has been mixed so well that it makes their situation more realistic. Even though, it’s a 5.1 track, the use of the sound field is incredible. The gunfire sounds like it is coming from everywhere and passes through the room from one end to the other. While there are bullet ricochets and different weapons being fired simultaneously, the team is shouting commands that are distinguishable without being overpowered by effects. Also, the music and score doesn’t get lost in the chaos. LFEs are powerful enough to feel the firefights in the bass, including in the rear speakers. This is best heard when the SEALs use their suppressed weapons and when the enemy RPGs are exploding around them. Universal definitely has another release to place in the “win” column regardless of the showing at the Academy Awards.
The bonus features are plentiful and have excellent information about this movie. They’re all in HD and if you watch them in one sitting, they play out like a separated behind the scenes featurette.
-Will of the warrior: by Under Armor: This is a documentary about Marcus Luttrell, the real lone survivor.
-Bringing The Story to Light: This featurette is with director Peter Berg, the producers, and the cast of the film.
-Recreating The Firefight: This featurette shows how the crew pieced together the right location and military advisors.
-Learning The Basics: This featurette shows how the actors had hard core training. Working the firearms and moving like a soldier.
-Fallen Heroes Of Operation Red Wings: Here is a series of clips paying tribute to the lost soldiers during operation: Red Wings. There is also a montage of all of the soldiers involved that died on the mission.
-The Pashtun Code of Life: this featurette explains what the Pashtun code is and how the people live by them.
Two-disc set w/1 Blu-ray and 1 DVD
UltraViolet Digital Copy
iTunes Digital Copy
1080p AVC MPEG-4
2.40:1 Aspect ratio
English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Spanish DTS 5.1
This is an unforgettable film with powerful, raw emotions that are seldom seen in the action genre. It’s an excellent military movie for both audio and videophiles. Honestly, the best way I can describe it is that this is the cure for the action film junkie. This was a group of soldiers that were involved in one of the toughest firefights and did everything they could to pull through it. This is more than just entertainment but it was made to honor these Navy SEALS and every branch of our military that makes the sacrifices it takes to protect our freedoms. I highly recommended this movie and there is no other choice but to screen it on Blu-ray.
In closing, I leave you with the Frogman’s Ballad from the film:
“I’ve been around the world twice, talked to everyone once. I’ve been to three world fairs. I am a hard bodied, hairy-chested, rootin, tootin, shootin, parachutin, demolition double cap crimping Frogman.
There ain’t nothing I can’t do.
No sky too high, no sea too rough, no Muff to tough. I’ve learned a lot of lessons in my life. Never shoot a large caliber man with a small caliber bullet. I drive all kinds of trucks. 2x’s, 4x’s, 6x’s even those big trucks that bend and go TSSHHTT TSSHHTT when you step on the brakes.
Anything in life worth doing is worth overdoing. Moderation is for cowards.
I’m a lover, I’m a fighter, I’m a UDT/SEAL Diver. If you’re feeling froggy than you better jump because this Frogman has been there, done that and is going back for more.”