Lone Survivor Special: Director Peter Berg | Fanboys Anonymous

Lone Survivor Special: Director Peter Berg

Posted by Fellonius Munch Monday, January 6, 2014
This year is going to be pretty damned exciting for movie fans everywhere, with the early winter months being no exception. Just think about it: Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Robocop, Amazing Spider-Man 2, Arnie stepping up his game again with Sabotage, Godzilla in an acting deathmatch with Breaking Bad's Bryan Cranston, Tom Cruise getting repeatedly killed in Edge of Tomorrow, and more!

Mark Wahlberg Ben Foster war action movie Lone Survivor poster art

This month we get the grueling war film Lone Survivor, starring Mark Wahlberg and Ben Foster. It will be awesome, kickass, emotional, the mutt's nuts, the kitty's titties. To coincide with its release, I wanted to run a feature—not on its actors, but on its director, who will want none of the credit but deserves lots.

I'm talking, of course, about Peter Berg—a familiar face in acting since the '80s and now writer, director, and producer of some great films and TV shows, with a few guilty pleasures in the mix.

Lone Survivor director Chicago Hope actor Peter Berg
"Fucking tell me how to drink my soup!"
The Lone Survivor director, who turns 50 this March, marks his ninth movie as a director since Very Bad Things in 1998, with a tenth in pre-production. You could call that lazy by some standards, but then you'd be discounting the fact that he's also directed six TV series, written seven movie and television screenplays, and then made some forty-one acting appearances since his debut in 1988's 21 Jump Street.

Berg, middle name Winkler (true story), apparently never wanted to be an actor. Moving to LA in 1985, he was a dock worker and pizza delivery man before his big break, because let's face it: say for instance you never wanted to write comic books for a living, and instead you cleaned toilets. If you had the opportunity to tell stories rather than smell bleach and arse, you'd take it and see where it went.

Lone Survivor director Peter Berg survives death row killer
"I don't wanna play pro football anymore, I wanna grow a crazy old man beard..."
Well, not only did Winkleberg get his break quickly, he was very soon a leading man in popular film and working with some pretty stellar actors before the mid-'90s. You may or may not remember that Berg was the lead protagonist in Wes Craven's 1989 film Shocker, co-starring X-Files and Sons of Anarchy actor Mitch Pileggi.

Bearing in mind that the 90s were possibly the worst decade in Hollywood film history—lack of money, crap CGI, action heroes were getting old—Berg worked hard to do fewer films like Aspen Extreme ("Top Gun on the Ski Slopes") and tried to apply himself to more serious work like A Midnight Clear and Fire in the Sky.

It was his role as Dr. Billy Kronk on smash hit TV show Chicago Hope (the role he is still best known for) between 1995 and 1999, however, that marked his change in fortune and his directorial debut. That same year he directed his first movie, Very Bad Things.

Christian Slater Cameron Diaz black comedy Very Bad Things
"Who switched off the football to watch The Notebook?!!"
If anything, his debut promised great things to come for reasons other than the fact that he found a greater passion in directing. Some positive film experiences had clearly helped him to see what makes a good production, whereas some terrible ones had no doubt shown him all the schoolboy errors a director should never make.

While still making frequent film and television appearances as an actor, with the likes of Cop Land, Alias, and King of Queens, Berg continued to write and direct for television before his next movie, The Rundown aka Welcome to the Jungle, arguably Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson's most credible and enjoyable film to date (at the time).

Peter Berg directed WWE film The Rundown starring Dwayne the Rock Johnson
AKA Welcome to the Jungle
You might not have seen what came next after his appearance as "Pistol" Pete Deeks in Smokin' Aces

Peter Berg as "Pistol" Pete Deeks in Smokin' Aces

…but Berg would quickly go on to prove that he was no small-time director, even if his ease and competence had already proved what he could do with a small budget. From 2009 up until 2012, Berg would apply himself vigorously to working in television, but first, he released two of his most successful movies yet: 2007's suspenseful Middle Eastern terrorist thriller The Kingdom

…and 2008's superhero drama Hancock, which was (in my opinion), Will Smith's last decent film.

Will Smith Jason Bateman and Charlize Theron superhero film Hancock
Well, that car isn't covered for superhero damage.
From those two features, you can get a great idea of not only Berg's dramatic style of direction but also his flair for timing between drama, suspense, and comic relief. Not that there is a lack of that in cinema today, but Berg is a standout director, one that delivers on what he promises. Lone Survivor, for this reason, will be a film you can bet on.

Of course, the man has also made his mistakes, namely in the hefty-budgeted Battleship, which was based on the Hasbro board game of legend. The film was made for an estimated $209 million and made just over $100 million in profits on top of its money back worldwide, but cinema goers seemed hardly impressed. Why the hell did a board game about sinking battleships have a film about an alien invasion?

Taylor Kitch Battleship alien sci-fi action movie
Taylor Kitch is our only hope? Hahahaaa let's surrender!
Regardless, time will tell whether Berg will ever make that same mistake again. Outside of film and television, he's co-owner of the famous Wild Card West boxing gym with legendary boxer Freddie Roach, and doesn't rely on the fame or fortune of Hollywood. Boxing and movies are both lifetime passions of his from which he will never walk away, especially since his client bases consist of his idols and those who idolize him.

Not bad for a kid who came out west to LA from New York City to be a dock worker!

Sylvester Stallone Robert Deniro Harvey Keitel gangland cop thriller Cop Land
"Yeah whatever, not bad for a... just shut up..."
So, who'll be going to see Lone Survivor this month? I'll bet on you getting your money's worth. If I lose, though, I hope you don't mind Monopoly money. I'm broke-ass poor. Comments below and thanks for reading.

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