Amy Nicholson’s Review of “Lone Survivor” and Those Outraged By It

Long story short: “L.A. Weekly” (think “The Village Voice” for Los Angeles) film critic Amy Nicholson wrote a critical review of the film “Lone Survivor.” Because, she is, like, a film critic. A lot of people have expressed outrage about her review on Twitter, which I suppose is the best place to express outrage these days.

The film is based on a real story about stuff that really happened to a real Navy SEAL team in Afghanistan. Nicholson in no way opined on the U.S. military, the War on Terror or on the real SEALs.

A lot of people have expressed anger at Nicholson, somehow thinking she insulted the SEALs or the War on Terror or the military or something. She did not.

However, she does note that the film is based on a book, “Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team, 10” by former Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell, with the help of British novelist Patrick Robinson, who, she writes, embellished the story. But, this is faint criticism. Ghost writers and memoir-embellishment are nothing new.

Her view is negative, but the negative view that she expresses is only of the film. On Luttrell and his fallen buddies, she writes: “These four men were heroes.”

That said, those who read of the outrage her review inspired before reading her review may be surprised to learn that her review of the film is not all bad. It is the embodiment of a “mixed review.” She praises the craftmanship of director Peter Berg for the film’s nuanced portrayal of the SEALs. Berg, she writes, portrayed them accurately as “real-life action stars,” and did “the right thing by refusing to whitewash them as saints.”

(She errs in calling them “soldiers,” as soldiers are those who serve in the Army and not the Navy, but this is a common error among those unfamiliar with the military who would call everyone in every branch of service “soldiers.”)

Now, might be a good time for me to admit a few things. Firstly, I have not read the book or seen the movie. I read Amanda Marcotte’s blog about it at “The Raw Story,” and I read Nicholson’s review. My purpose here is to write about that review and the angry reactions to it, nothing more. Also, before I moved to Los Angeles, wrote screenplays and tried to get studio suits to look at them, I was a soldier, and I am a War on Terror veteran.

Even if she wrote heinous things about the military or, specifically, those of us who served in the WoT, she has a right to do so. And, (pat yourself on the back if you see this coming), her rights to write whatever she wants and to express any opinion she may have are a large part of what those of us who have served in the military at any time and in any war have fought for, freedom of expression and freedom of the press.


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