Seeing what Marcus Luttrell, the only survivor, endured took my breath away. I had read the book, LONE SURVIVOR, so I was curious to see how the film differed from the book.
Even though it was directed under Marcus Luttrell’s watchful eye, there were a few small differences. The most obvious one was that Marcus did not play himself. While he did play one of the SEALs at the forward operating base, his character was played by Marc Wahlberg, a man who’s six to eight inches shorter than Marcus but makes similar facial expressions. In his book, Marcus recuperated for several days in the village where Gulab, the shepherd, protected him. While he was occasionally roughed up by the Taliban during this time, he reports in his book that, being such small, slight men, they couldn’t do much damage to him. Not so in the movie where they beat him to a pulp and nearly cut his head off. In the movie it seems like he stays in the village for a very short while. And in the movie the American military lands right in the heart of town to rescue him right as the Taliban are invading. That’s certainly a more dramatic resolution to the story than Marcus walking out of the town under his own steam to a rendezvous point that–granted–wasn’t the safest place to land a helicopter. I think the biggest difference is that, in his book, Marcus never reported actually dying and being resuscitated, which is what happened in the movie. He did say that a part of him died on that mountain, but in the book he meant that in the figurative sense, not literally.
Still, I watched the entire movie on the edge of my seat. I jumped, I flinched, and I cried. I was a little disappointed that Danny Deitz was made to look slightly less than the hero he seemed in the book. I had the honor of meeting his beautiful widow, Maria (Patsy) Deitz, at a fundraiser two years later. I’ve also met Marcus whose story inspired my book NEXT TO DIE, a book that now resides in his house, thanks to his wife Melanie who bought my series at a fundraiser she put together.
All in all, I recommend the movie LONE SURVIVOR to everyone, but it’s not a substitute for the book, which while reading, you’ll get to know much more about Marcus, his teammates, and his family who kept vigil the entire time that he was missing.