“Lone Survivor” may be hell to sit through, but it’s part of a long Hollywood tradition of commemorative combat films, soldiers’ stories that grieve for fallen brothers and find hard, simple truths in notions of sacrifice and courage.
The problem is that the wars we fight aren’t simple anymore and the best recent movies about them — from “Three Kings” to “The Hurt Locker” to a dozen great documentaries like “Restrepo” and “Gunner Palace” — aren’t simple either. They have to address contexts of why we’re there, whether we’re wanted, how culture clashes macro and micro, military and civilian, play themselves out. To not do so, as Peter Berg’s rousing, well-made field tragedy does not, is to end up with an old-fashioned war movie. And I’m not sure that’s fair to what Marcus Luttrell went through.