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Critic's Pick: 'Lone Survivor' pairs combat violence with humane acts

"Lone Survivor," director Peter Berg's hard-charging war drama starring Mark Wahlberg, Taylor Kitsch, Emile Hirsch and Ben Foster, is very much about the physical damage wrought by fierce, face-to-face combat. It is also a movie about the unexpected humanity that finds a way to exist even when battle lines are drawn. The film is loosely based on a 2005 special ops mission in Afghanistan that went terribly wrong, and the unraveling begins when the operation's leader, played by Kitsch, makes a controversial decision to release a trio of unarmed goat herders. That one act of decency, and in line with military code, leads to a disaster for the men as Taliban rebels are soon alerted and shooting. But the decency theme doesn't end there. The survivor of the skirmish, Wahlberg's Marcus Luttrell, is close to death when he's found by a Pashtun villager. Gulab (Ali Suliman) defies the Taliban at great risk to save the soldier. So while the warfare is visceral, violent and in the trenches, there is also great heart at work in the film and hope in the humanity Berg exposes alongside the bullet wounds.

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