Lone Survivor: Afghan Lamb Kebabs

Year Released: 2013
Directed by: Peter Berg
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Taylor Kitsch, Ben Foster, Emile Hirsch, Eric Bana
(R, 121 min.)
Genre: Drama, Action and Adventure

"We sleep safe in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm.”  George Orwell

Step aside Iron Man and Batman. America's real heroes are here.  Lone Survivor carries on the patriotic legacy. Even with counter productive government politics and negative media, this movie comes out on top. The film makes you realize what our troops do for our country and how government rules and our media can literally kill our soldiers.

When four Navy SEALS are told to take out an extremely dangerous, high profile Taliban leader, the difficult mission seems to be on track.  Then the innocent sound of a goat’s collar bell signals a big problem––the old man herding the goats holds some sort of communication device in his hands.  But he and his two young herders are not real soldiers; they do not fall within the Rules of Engagement.

To kill them or even leave them tied up in that remote region seems barbaric to most of the SEALS, even though one of them rightly assumes that the older boy, who has hate in his eyes, is every bit an enemy combatant to be feared.

Yet these SEALS harbor no fear of their adversaries.  It’s CNN that puts dread in their hearts.  Every decision the team makes must take into account how it will play out on the 24 hour cable networks, that and the very real threat of imprisonment by their own government if their split second decision is deemed illegal.  So the team lets the herders go, and everything goes downhill from there.

Although he loved the film, Triston only gives the movie four stars, “…because as I took a look behind the scenes, I found that the lead actor, Mark Wahlberg, is an anti-gun advocate. So why is he acting in this, and other seemingly pro gun films? I believe this movie reminds us why our constitution is so important, and why our right to bear arms must never be taken from us. If Mark truly is against guns, he wouldn't be playing these parts, I guess the greed of Hollywood will never stop.”

–Triston: Junior Critic - The Next Generation

Triston was 19 years old when he wrote this review 2 hearts ago.  Then he lived in rural Illinois where he helped train champion Labrador Retrievers with his father.  He is active in the Illinois Pioneer Chapter of Pheasants Forever, a habitat conservation organization.

An avid reader, Triston loves futuristic science fiction/horror, such as World War Z and The Hunger GamesAnd he loves to see what Hollywood does to his favorite fiction.


Triston has presented his case so well, what more can Different Drummer add?  Well, first of all, as much as I love his passion and patriotism, I will have to remind my young protégé of number 3 on Different Drummer’s  list of Ten Personal Preferences.

3. The love life, political beliefs and prior work of actors are mostly irrelevant to enjoyment of a movie.

Of course, it should also be explained that this rule has evolved as a sort of self protection, since long ago I discovered that if I held actors accountable for their private lives in selecting which films to watch, I would then have to forgo going to the show almost entirely.  And in that same confessional mode, I should also note that I have entirely ignored preferences 2 and 5 in giving August: Osage County my highest rating.

Different Drummer must also admit that Lone Survivor’s box office take (almost $94 million at this writing) as well as its 75% positive Rotten Tomatoes critical acclaim did come as a mild surprise, particularly the latter.   After all, it’s not cool to be patriotic anymore, is it?  At least that’s what the talking heads on the networks as well as most journalists would have us believe.  Even the relatively reasonable Jake Tapper of CNN, who seems impressed with our film, can’t help but question its very core when he interviews Marcus, Luttrell, the real Navy SEAL who penned the novel about his 2005 mission.  Marcus does not suffer fools gladly:

TAPPER: One of the emotions I felt while watching the film is, first of all, just the hopelessness of the situation, how horrific it was and also just all that loss of life of these brave American men. And I was torn about the message of the film in the same way that I think I am about the war in Afghanistan itself. I don't want any more senseless American death and at the same time I know that there are dead people there and good people who need help. Was that intentional?

LUTTRELL: Well, I don't know what part of the film you were watching, but hopelessness really ever came into it. Where did you see that? We never felt like we were hopelessly lost or anything like that. We never gave up. We never felt like we were losing unless we were actually dead. That never came across in the battle and while we were fighting on the mountain and it was just us against them.

TAPPER: Hopelessness, just the sense of all these wonderful people who died. It seemed senseless. I don't mean to disrespect in any way but it seemed senseless, all of these wonderful people who were killed for an op that went wrong.

LUTTRELL: We spend our whole lives defending this country so you tell me because we were over there doing what we were told to do was senseless and they died for nothing?

What comes through to the audiences of Lone Survivor–perhaps only in a minor way to Tapper and his cohorts–is the bond that holds this elite group of men together.  Their mission may have ended in failure, but the ties that kept the SEALS going, that brotherhood forged in the heat of battle, the one that kept them fighting with bullet ridden bodies, is still alive in the young soldiers who “let us sleep safe in our beds” at night.

–Kathy Borich


Film-Loving Foodie

Maybe this recipe should feature goat meat (cabrito, kid, or the sophisticated French appellation, chevon), since it is the goats–some might even label them *Judas goats here–that lead our SEALS like lambs to the slaughter.  But the lamb actually tastes better, I think, so we will not quibble. 

Too many real and metaphorical animal names here, I admit, especially when our Navy SEALS get transformed into lambs.

Don’t let any of that keep you from enjoying this delicious and simple dish, though.

* A Judas goat is a trained goat used at a slaughterhouse and in general animal herding. The Judas goat is trained to associate with sheep or cattle, leading them to a specific destination. In stockyards, a Judas goat will lead sheep to slaughter, while its own life is spared. Judas goats are also used to lead other animals to specific pens and on to trucks.

Afghan Lamb Kababs

So many spellings (kabab, kabob...), so many variations, all delicious. Ours are wonderfully flavored with cumin and red wine.

2 lb. boneless lamb (1” cubes)

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. ground cumin

1/4 tsp. pepper

1/4 C red wine

Marinate all the ingredients for 1-2 hours. Skewer lamb, alternating with onion quarters, on metal skewers. Grill or broil for 10 minutes.