Striking realistic violence, feverishly well-paced, and based on an incredible true story of persevering against all odds, for fans of modern war films, what’s not to like in ‘Lone Survivor’? The Peter Berg directed movie puts us in the shoes of Marcus Luttrell and his team of four Navy SEALs tasked with the elimination of Taliban commander Ahmad Shah, responsible for the deaths of 20 of their fellow soldiers. Intelligence reports had informed them of a ten-man guard with the leader, but they soon discovered that there were a lot more.
A shepherd boy reports their presence to the insurgents and a deadly chase follows. With the terrain working against them, the squad beats a tactical retreat, jumping off cliffs and rolling down hillsides in a head-spinning fight for survival. The action is beyond an adrenaline rush, with one of the fight scenes lasting for forty-five minutes. The film is bound to leave you with a thirst for more gripping and exhilarating action movies like ‘Lone Survivor.’
8. Danger Close (2019)
A company of 108 fresh Australian and New Zealand men enter enemy territory on a search and destroy mission in 1966 Vietnam. Entering a rubber plantation as they head for Long Tan, the company comes to a halt, nervous hands gripping the familiar steel of their rifles. A burst of machine gun fire tears into their ranks as they all hit the ground. There is a mass of movement in the distance, and it dawns on Major Harry Smith that they face a foe twenty times their size who is surrounding them. With no reinforcements coming to save them, the rookie soldiers face a battle-hardened enemy in their home.
‘Danger Close’ under the direction of Kriv Stenders brings us the true story of the battle of Long Tan, for which the company was awarded both US and South Vietnamese Presidential Unit Citations for gallantry. Much like ‘Lone Survivor,’ it is based on a true story of courage and a battle for survival against overwhelming odds. A major difference to note is the SEALs team being elites of the US army, while the recruits in ‘Danger Close’ make a valiant last stand as boys who rose to stare down certain death and walked away, men of war.
7. 12 Strong (2018)
When the nation watched in terror as the Twin Towers collapsed, the Green Berets rode out for vengeance. Based on the true story of the first Special Forces squad mobilized against the Taliban in Afghanistan after 9/11, ‘12 Strong’ by director Nicolai Fuglsig narrates the extraordinary tale of the elite strike force that took to horseback and set the stage for invasion. Fueled by valor and a thirst for revenge, the team of twelve work with an Afghan warlord against a Mujahedeen force of 50,000, using hit-and-run tactics while taking out strategic assets of the enemy. In ‘Lone Survivor’ we saw our team heroes in a desperate fight for survival, ‘12 Strong’ will bring the fight to the enemy in a glorious selfless offensive.
6. 9th Company (2005)
In a lesser-explored setting of the Afghanistan war, ‘9th Company’ takes us back to 1988 and into the Soviet lens as the US-backed Mujahedeen cracked down on a crumbling Soviet military. Recruits from the Union arrive to replenish the 9th Company of the 345 paratroopers and are assigned to guard Hill 3234. They face continued attacks that devastate their defenses, kill their brothers in arms, and hammer their mental states.
Ressuplying convoys are ambushed, mentally distraught teammates run into the open to get shot and recruits get cut down left, right, and center. The Fedor Bondarchuk-directed Russian film tells a brutal tale based on the true events of Operation Magistral. If you were shocked at the terrifyingly realistic violence of ‘Lone Survivor,’ ‘9th Company’ will give you an entire war front of a similar theme. The film manages to capture, in essence, the bottomless pit of dread and gritty violence that is a war, especially a losing war.
5. The Siege of Jadotville (2016)
“No one has attacked UN peacekeepers,” commandant Pat Quinlan is told as his company of 150 Irish soldiers is deployed in a vulnerable defensive position, there to defend civilians of the mining town of Jadotville. He orders his men to dig trenches, set up defensive positions, and remain vigilant. Little does he know, he stands at the breaking point of an all-out civil war in Congo. Unbeknownst to the commandant, the UN launches Operation Morthor against Katangese forces in a nearby city. Leading a large Katangese contingent led by French mercenary commander Rene Faulques.
With nowhere to run, a valiant last stand takes place, with the Irish forces gunning down the oncoming tide of attackers from entrenched positions. Fans of ‘Lone Survivor’ will find another brilliantly directed true war film in Richie Smyth’s ‘The Siege of Jadotville.’ It features edge-of-the-seat tension as the UN forces make a nerve-racking scramble, caught unaware, and the sharp-minded measures taken by commandant Quinian as he leads his troops to defend their position to the last bullet. When the dust finally settles, we are left with an unbelievable yet true ending.
4. 13 Hours (2016)
With the explosive direction of Michael Bay, ‘13 Hours’ tells the true story of six ex-special forces contractors who make a choice to protect the US ambassador and defend their position against mobs of attackers in rebellion-torn Libya. 2011 saw the fall of dictator Muhammad Gaddafi under US intervention in Libya. The power vacuum left behind because of his death led to anarchy in the nation and the black market was flooded with easily available weapons. Rebel groups took to the streets, one of their targets — the US ambassador to Libya stationed next to a CIA base in Benghazi.
When the ambassador comes under attack, six security contractors in the CIA building opt to protect the fellow national, but they now face an overwhelming number of hostiles moving in on them. With limited resources and manpower and no extraction in sight, they will have to pick their battles wisely and thread the narrow line to survival. Those who have been interested in the tactical combat elements of ‘Lone Survivor’ will find themselves gripped by the pulse-pounding action of ‘13 Hours.’
3. Outpost (2019)
US troops are posted in Camp Keating as a part of an effort to disrupt the Taliban’s supply lines through the region. However, the camp is located in a valley surrounded by mountains on all sides, making it an incredibly easy target. The soldiers are regularly fired upon in small skirmishes, but their commander knows that a bigger attack is on the horizon and tries to improve relations with nearby villages by visiting their elders. They are attacked by a force of 400 Taliban fighters, surrounding them from the nearby hilltop.
With fewer men and a deeply disadvantaged position, the soldiers will have to use everything at their disposal to survive. Its high-octane action sequences of our heroes fighting back in a rush for their lives while facing overwhelming odds, are reminiscent of the desperate tactical withdrawal by the squad in ‘Lone Survivor.’ ‘Outpost,’ helmed by director Rod Lurie takes us through a harsh true story of negligence in the chain of command that leads to brave and loyal soldiers losing their lives. The film makes you feel the struggle for survival and the brutal realities of warfare.
2. The Covenant (2023)
Guy Ritchie’s ‘The Covenant’ follows a squad of soldiers led by Sergeant John Kinley (Jake Gyllenhaal). The team works with interpreters from the Afghan National Army to gather information. These Afghan nationals take a great personal risk for themselves and their families in working for the US military and are promised a US visa at the end of their service to begin life anew there. Their latest interpreter, Ahmed (Dar Salim), has lost family to the Taliban and is highly motivated to strike back at them. During an operation, they are ambushed and overwhelmed.
Sergeant Kinley is heavily injured and cannot move. Putting his life on the line, Ahmed makes a long journey through the heart of enemy territory with the injured Sergeant. Upon waking up back in his homeland, Kinley learns that Ahmed was never given the promised Visa, and is being hunted in Afghanistan as the man who humiliated the Taliban. With the bureaucracy stonewalling his efforts to help Ahmed, Kinsley takes it upon himself to head back and rescue his battle-brother and his family. ‘The Covenant’ tells a story of trust, perseverance, and brotherhood, which is elevated by stellar performances by Gyllenhaal and Dar Salim. Fans of ‘Lone Survivor’ are sure to find a thought-provoking, thrilling, and engaging war film in ‘The Covenant.’
1. Black Hawk Down (1997)
One of the inspirations behind ‘Lone Survivor’ is director Ridley Scott’s ‘Black Hawk Down,’ based on the true story of Operation Gothic Serpent. Intervening in Somalia, US forces drop a hundred men, including Rangers and special forces, into the Mogadishu market of Somalia in 1993 to capture two lieutenants of a Somali warlord. They face unexpectedly heavy resistance, and two of their supporting black hawk helicopters are shot down, forcing the Rangers, commanded by Capt. Mike Steele to launch a rescue operation in the heart of enemy territory.
The streets of Mogadishu turn into a treacherous battlefield, with dangers lurking around every corner. As we follow the rangers through the streets, we feel their trepidations. And when they are ambushed and surrounded by endless enemy forces, our hearts can’t help but beat in tandem with the rising symphony of the firefight. The dark and heavy atmosphere, actors becoming infused with the narrative, and an unforgettable last-stand sequence make ‘Black Hawk Down’ the gold standard of modern warfare films.