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In ‘Lone Survivor,’ against all odds in Afghanistan

Universal Pictures

The distributors of “Lone Survivor” (2013) missed a perfect opportunity by not releasing their war drama on DVD a couple of weeks ago, in time for Memorial Day. Of course, looking at it another way, the disc’s timing rightly helps ensure that America’s service personnel are in our thoughts for more than just a one-day observance. The film tells the true story of Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell (Mark Wahlberg) and three fellow soldiers whose Afghanistan mission goes bad, leaving them harrowingly cornered by the Taliban in harsh mountain terrain. The title and the outcome dictate that Wahlberg’s Luttrell is the face on the cover, but this is very much a brothers-in-arms story, with a cast to match. (Taylor Kitsch plays team leader Mike Murphy; Ben Foster brings his customary intensity as Matt Axelson; and Emile Hirsch recalls his “Into the Wild” struggle as Danny Dietz.) Director Peter Berg (the Iraq-themed “The Kingdom,” the nonsense-themed “Battleship”) returns to familiar ground to craft a reenactment of the group’s ordeal that’s jarringly immersive. The messages of bravery and brotherhood come through loud and clear, but what’s conveyed even more powerfully is the hell these troops endure as just part of the job — their casual summation, not ours. Extras: An hour-long featurette assortment spends time with Luttrell and the parents of his fallen comrades. We also get a look behind the scenes of the combat reenactment work, shot in New Mexico ski country. And Berg gets together with Mohamad Gulab, the Afghan man who helped rescue Luttrell. (Universal, $29.98; Blu-ray, $34.98)

ACTION / SCIENCE FICTION

ROBOCOP (2014)

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Our spirits sagged when nothing finally came of talk that Darren Aronofsky might bring his enigmatic sensibility to this remake. But it turns out that unheralded Brazilian director José Padilha offers some distinctive touches, too (starting with his riff on the MGM lion’s roar). Paul Verhoeven’s original “RoboCop” saved some of the most visceral treatment for bad guys, but here, it’s hero Alex Murphy (Joel Kinnaman) whose condition makes for the gnarliest imagery. Other notable elements include Murphy’s wife (Abbie Cornish) agonizing over her extreme life-support dilemma, and a ballistic training sequence set to Focus’s yodel-ly prog-rock anthem “Hocus Pocus.” (MGM, $29.98; Blu-ray, $39.99)

TELEVISION

BARBARY COAST (1975-76)

William Shatner filled a bit of the time between “Star Trek” and “Star Trek: The Motion Picture” with this short-lived western romp, alternately cited as imitating “The Wild Wild West” and “Mission: Impossible” (same writers). Shatner plays Jeff Cable, an undercover agent (and master of campy disguise!) policing 1880s San Francisco with a big assist from casino-proprietor pal Cash Conover (Doug McClure, of “The Virginian”). The series’ biggest mystery? How McClure doesn’t get equal billing, when Cable hits Cash with more heavy lifting than your best bro on moving day. Extras: pilot episode with Dennis Cole in McClure’s role. (Acorn Media, $59.99)

Tom Russo can be reached at trusso2222@gmail.com.
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