Peter Berg reportedly (unofficially) struck a deal with Universal Pictures back in 2010, so that he would first direct the studio’s Battleship board game movie adaptation before moving ahead with his preferred armed forces movie of choice: Lone Survivor, an adaptation of the non-fiction book by former Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell.
Now that the aforementioned Hasbro board game-based project is all ready to set sail (pun intended) in theaters this summer, Berg is turning his attention to Lone Survivor. He’s long been planning to re-team with Battleship star Taylor Kitsch on the film; now, reports are in that A-lister Mark Wahlberg and popular character actor Ben Foster (The Messenger) have likewise begun negotiations to star in Berg’s adaptation.
Luttrell’s original book is fully-titled “Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10”. Berg wrote the script adaptation after spending a month being embedded with a SEAL team in Iraq (for research purposes) and has described the true story to Deadline as follows:
“[SEAL Team 10’s mission] was similar to the assassination mission that got [Osama] bin Laden, but things got complicated when they ran into three kids and an old man [in Afghanistan]. Under the rules of engagement, they could have killed them, but they decided to let them go and take their chances, even though they knew these people would likely talk.”
That decision proved to be the catalyst for an assault by some 250 Taliban soldiers who sought to take out the members of SEAL Team 10; it’s not a spoiler to say that only one member of the team made it out alive (hence the original book’s title). Berg has also revealed that his adaptation of Lone Survivor will focus primarily on four members of the team – with Wahlberg slated to portray Luttrell.
Berg’s planned vision for Lone Survivor is already prompting comparisons to Ridley Scott’s Black Hawk Down, both in terms of its narrative structure and how the former is likewise expect to offer a pretty accurate portrayal of military operation tactics (not to mention, the innate ugliness of combat). Lone Survivor won’t feature the vast ensemble cast that BHD does, though, and the overall scale of the story is comparatively smaller.
When Berg last worked in the “Middle Eastern war” genre, the result was 2007’s The Kingdom: a moderately well-received flick that was widely admired for its action sequences, but criticized for being somewhat formulaic and predictable from a storytelling perspective. If nothing else, Lone Survivor should play more to Berg’s strengths as a Michael Bay-esque director (ie. someone who excels foremost at creating visceral thrills).
Lone Survivor will also be the third cinematic vehicle depicting SEALs in action to hit theaters in recent times, after the recently-released Act of Valor and the upcoming (still) untitled Black Ops thriller from Oscar-winner Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker). It will be interesting to see which one of these three titles ultimately proves the most successful, as far as both box office glory and critical acclaim goes.
Principal photography on Lone Survivor is tentatively expected to get underway by Fall 2012.