'Lone Survivor' Takes on CNN's Jake Tapper Over Whether His Deadly Afghanistan Mission Seemed 'Hopeless'

The website Box Office Mojo reports the Afghanistan war movie “Lone Survivor” opened to an estimated $38.5 million this weekend, which is second all-time in January behind 2008's sci-fi monster film “Cloverfield.”

On Friday afternoon, CNN anchor Jake Tapper interviewed the “lone survivor” of the title, Marcus Luttrell, and actor Mark Wahlberg, who plays him in the movie. Luttrell reacted strongly to Tapper’s suggestion that after watching the movie, he felt the mission that cost him his friends seemed hopeless: [See video below. MP3 audio here.]

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?

TAPPER: No, I'm not saying that at all.

LUTTRELL: That's what you said. So, let me just say that, yes, it went bad for us over there but that was our job. That's what we did. We didn't complain about it. We went out there and did what we did best and at the end, we weren't standing. They were. We were lucky. I was lucky. And the rest of the guys, we fought as hard as we possibly could. Never felt sorry for ourselves while we were out there. This was a job we were going after a high value target and, you know, it got switched on us.

TAPPER: Maybe it's just the difference between what a civilian feels when he watches this versus what a soldier does.

LUTTRELL: Absolutely.

WAHLBERG: I mean, I completely agree, but I don't think his opinion is ever going to change. That's his job. I respect that. I understand. I understand. The more time I spend with Marcus, the more I really start to understand who they are and what they do for us and it's pretty amazing.

Tapper isn't some uninformed blow-dried anchorman in this interview. He wrote a book called "The Outpost" on the war in Afghanistan. Earlier in the interview, Wahlberg declared he’d never been more proud to be part of a film than this one:

TAPPER: One of the big questions that I have, as someone who covers the war in Afghanistan, do the American people want to hear these stories? They are incredibly powerful. This movie is very, very compelling. Do they want to know about it?

MARK WAHLBERG, ACTOR, "LONE SURVIVOR": Well, they should know about it. They need to know about it and it's my job to get as many people into the theatres to see it as possible. I've never felt more strongly about something that I've been a part of. I've never been more proud to be a part of a project like this.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis