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'Lone Survivor' is a war story for grown-ups.


"Lone Survivor'' R -- Too realistically violent to recommend for anyone under 17, "Lone Survivor'' is a war story for grown-ups. Based on a memoir of the Afghan War by former Navy SEAL Leading Petty Officer Marcus Luttrell, the film recreates what happened to him and his SEAL buddies, three of whom perished.

In June 2005, Luttrell (Mark Wahlberg), Lt. Michael Patrick "Murph'' Murphy (Taylor Kitsch), 2nd Class Petty Officer Matthew Gene "Axe'' Axelson (Ben Foster) and Gunner's Mate 2nd Class Danny P. Dietz Jr. (Emile Hirsch) are sent on a mission by Lt. Cmdr. Erik Kristensen (Eric Bana). Their target is a Taliban leader (Yousuf Azami) in a village near the Pakistan border.

While scoping out the village from a wooded hillside, the SEALs encounter several unarmed shepherds. After a brief debate over whether to kill them, detain them or let them go, the SEALs decide that killing them would be a war crime, and that their sole option is to release them. They do so, knowing that the shepherds will give their location to Taliban fighters. The four Americans are soon surrounded. The battle goes on and on, as Marcus' buddies die and he, while badly wounded, somehow survives with help from a Pashtun villager (Ali Suliman). A first rescue attempt by other SEALs also ends in disaster.

THE BOTTOM LINE: The endless firefights are edge-of-the-seat depictions and the wounds painfully realistic and bloody. The SEALs shoot many Taliban fighters, but it is how they themselves take bullets and grenades, plummet down hillsides and die with lungs full of blood that the film shows up-close. The profanity is very strong.

"Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones'' R -- Slightly bloodier than the previous four films in the series, this one is still relatively tame for an R, and OK for most high-schoolers.

Only a follower of all the "Paranormal Activity'' films (2007, 2010, 2011, 2012, all mildish R's) will be up to speed on the interrelatedness of plots and characters, and how a vortex of demons, witches and perhaps a touch of Voodoo have haunted, possessed and ultimately killed them.

Now set in a blue-collar Latino community in Oxnard, Calif., the story centers on friends Jesse (Andrew Jacobs), Hector (Jorge Diaz) and Marisol (Gabrielle Walsh), who've just graduated from high school.

Writer/director Christopher Landon's decision to move the story into an ethnic neighborhood has infused this installment with new energy and better acting. As in the other films, the teens use home video technology to try to capture images of spooky goings-on. They spy on their mysterious neighbor Anna (Gloria Sandoval) in their apartment complex, and see the valedictorian of their class, Oscar (Carlos Pratts), running from her flat.

THE BOTTOM LINE: As with the other "Paranormal Activity'' films, most of the violence is held back until a climactic finale. This time, it involves high-caliber gunshot wounds, along with blunt force trauma. However, there is the unexpected suicide jump early on, and a murder victim in a pool of blood. The film also includes nudity, strong profanity, a briefly steamy sexual situation, drug use, drinking and street fights.

"August: Osage County'' R -- The hilarity laced with melodrama that made Tracy Letts' Pulitzer Prize-winning play "August: Osage County'' such a thrill onstage fizzles in this starry adaptation. Not for under-17s because of an intensely profane script and mature themes, the film nevertheless offers a sample platter of fine acting for arts-loving young people 17 and older. The cast does the script justice, but the film has a huge pacing problem.

The play flew by, while the movie lumbers and kills the humor.

THE BOTTOM LINE: The script contains consistently strong profanity, graphic sexual slang, racial and homophobic slurs. A character abuses prescription drugs. A man offers pot to a 14-year-old girl and flirts inappropriately with her. Central themes involve suicide, incest and terminal cancer.
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Title Annotation:Living
Author:Horwitz, Jane
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Jan 10, 2014
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