Scott Marks 3:30 p.m., Dec. 24
The Passion of the SEAL. Peter Berg, having humiliated the American military by involving it in the ludicrous nonsense of Battleship, attempts to make up for it by telling the (based-on-a-true) story of a four-man mission gone very bad in Afghanistan. The desired response to the action onscreen seems to be awe rather than gratitude — from the outset, it's made clear that these men are a breed apart, warriors by nature. They suffer and fight because they want to suffer and fight, not because of cause or country. And when the bad guys start to close in, it's not the soldiers' sacrifice that plays as heroic, it's their endurance in the face of horrific injuries and insane odds. Berg's hand is sure and careful; he handles the operation's buildup and detail with low-key aplomb, and makes the case for war as hell, an inhuman darkness that serves to highlight brief flashes of humanity. With Mark Wahlberg. 2013.