Friday, June 19, 2015

Shooter II: The Shoot-ening

Well, I'm overdue for an actual review of an actual feature-length film.  But since it's been a long time since I saw Hellboy II: The Golden Army, maybe I'll do one I saw more recently.  More specifically, one of the latest from Marky Mark called Lone Survivor.  Not my first choice for a night's viewing, but a friend of a friend swore that the scenes in that movie were superior to Saving Private Ryan... okay, but just the sniper scenes... okay, but it wasn't my opinion, mind you.
Now, I think I'm already on record about Peter Berg, but I'll reiterate.  To me, he's like if Ethan Hawke were a right-wing nutjob... and as far as I know, Ethan isn't.  Now, I know that Michael Mann thinks Berg is the bees' knees, and that he was so great in Collateral as the police chief who'd rather stay in bed, but I think most Hollywood insiders would tell you that it wasn't much of a stretch for him.  Arguably his best acting is as the put-upon protagonist in Shocker, but even that's a little... maybe it was The Last Seduction.  Anyway, as a director, I'm not that impressed, but I will concede that Lone Survivor is probably his master work thematically, because it at least shows that the price for being a frat boy Army sniper can be pretty high.
This is apparently the true story of Marcus Luttrell, a real life sniper who went to Afghanistan to kick some ass for America, but found himself getting his ass kicked right back.  Also, he's friends with the now discredited Chris Kyle of American Sniper infamy, but at least Luttrell's story is a little more probable, and certainly less ambitious; Luttrell's not going for a Guinness World Record here.  You have to do some reading between the lines here, but the underlying message seems to be that we were really, really unprepared to go into Afghanistan.  And while we get the rah-rah macho sniper spirit rammed down our throats for most of the first half, in the second half, one can't help but feel some futility when one of the snipers is looking at his hand with half of its fingers blown off, asking "How can they (the Afghanis) move SO FAST?"
The boys are also attacked by poisonous snakes, but for the sake of dumb American audiences, the filmmakers threw in a diamondback rattlesnake instead of a native Afghanistan viper, for example.  A subtle distinction, to be sure, but I totally understand.  God bless 'em, they just don't develop rattles in that part of the world.
However, here's the part I strenuously object to.  I know it's based on the truth, and I know that the boys had no other choice, but to manly throw yourself over a cliff, perchance to roll gently down its steep slopes, well... no wonder we didn't get anywhere in Afghanistan. I mean, who throws themselves off a cliff?  I know these guys are the toughest in the world, but how could they be so stupid?  I know I have no right to complain, but I think that SOME of my tax dollars are going to these guys, so I feel a sense of ownership.  REPEL DOWN THE SIDE!!!!  WITH MOUNTAIN-CLIMBING EQUIPMENT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 
But that was the 2000s for ya.  Lots of crazy stuff going on.  Humvees with no armour in Iraq, mountaineering snipers with NO MOUNTAIN CLIMBING EQUIPMENT.  Crazy times, man.  If you remember the 2000s, well... you clearly weren't in the White House!
I kind of tuned out of this movie after the proverbial "Nanawatai" segment where Marky Mark finds his way to one of the villages, and the villagers try to protect him.  Maybe because my viewing companion found fault with that part, and kept saying over and over "Why would the villagers do that?  You've got the local warlords, and they're going to come back and kill everybody.  Why would they protect this guy?  They wouldn't!  They'd turn him over to the warlords!"  Sure, it's all too Hollywood, especially when they take Marky Mark over to the chopping block for heads (seen put to work at the beginning of the movie), raise the machete on high, and then... BOOM!  They hear a gunshot and they stop.  But the movie swears that it's all true.  Still, I'd like to get a second opinion from one of the other snipers; apparently, not possible!
And so, Marcus Luttrell has survived and lived to tell his tale.  Among his other accomplishments: a brief cameo in Lone Survivor, and appearing as himself on Spike TV's "Guys Choice Awards 2014."  So far, so good.  But speaking of Saving Private Ryan, I can't help but think of what Private Ryan said at the end of his life at the end of the movie, that he hoped that he earned what the rest of the guys had done for him.  Something like that.  Well, in Marcus Luttrell's case, according to his IMDb page, he's made several appearances on the Fox News channel.  Bad move, Marcus... bad move.

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

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