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5. Lone Survivor

This true story inspired an exceptionally well-crafted movie. In this instance, Berg’s direction can sometimes bridge on grandiose, but his heart is often in the right place. Berg’s film is an admirable tribute to Navy SEALs Marcus Luttrell (Mark Wahlberg), Danny Dietz (Emile Hirsch), Matthew Axelson (Ben Foster), and Michael Murphy (Taylor Kitsch). That’s not why Lone Survivor is a good movie, though. Berg’s depiction of their mission is a visceral experience, where every shot, broken bone, and moment of pain is shown on the mountain. When the ambush starts, it’s chaos, not exciting. The scene where the Navy Seals argue about the goat herders remains a great, challenging scene, too, but once the mission goes wrong, Lone Survivor is a relentlessly and brutal experience. Admittedly, the film doesn’t linger for too long after the credits roll. As a two-hour, white-knuckle war movie, however, it’s quite a watch.

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4. Very Bad Things

If you’d prefer a meaner version of The Hangover, then here you have it. Berg and Todd Phillips’ movies are both Las Vegas tales, but this is the darker of the two. Berg shows what happens when a group of boring, vanilla friends looking for trouble actually find it, and things just get worse and worse from there. Very Bad Things is a mean movie, and admirably so. There’s nothing dull about this comedy. It goes to surprising places, especially with the equally funny and disturbing ending. Very Bad Things is also a loud movie. As weird as that sounds, it’s a part of Berg’s dark comedy’s aggressive charm: Berg’s comedy is hardly a crowd-pleaser.

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3. The Kingdom

The Kingdom is the most overlooked Peter Berg film. The 2007 thriller split critics and audiences, but it’s Berg’s most intense work. The opening, which has Kyle Chandler reminding us there’s no such thing as small parts, is upsetting. During the opening suicide bombing in Riyadh, the overwhelming sound of the explosions and the screams are horrifying. With Lone Survivor and The Kingdom, Berg doesn’t glamorize war. It’s ugly, messy, and chaotic.

While seamlessly blending Arizona and Abu Dhabi, Berg shoots the hell out of The Kingdom, consistently building tension and raising the stakes until an unrelenting third act, and a chilling ending. It’s also worth nothing Berg perhaps gets the most naturalistic performance of Jamie Foxx‘s career. Like Wahlberg in Lone Survivor, Foxx is completely present and devoid of any tricks. None of the actors in Berg’s movies, especially in the true stories he tells, look like they’re simply playing dress up.

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