Directed By: Mike McCoy and Scott Waugh
Starring: ACTIVE DUTY US NAVY SEALS…and Roselyn Sanchez
That’s right. They finally tried to make an adrenaline filled war movie with ACTUAL SOLDIERS. No Steven Segal with horrible one-liners in this one - just the most badass men on the planet doing what they do best. This movie might not have been nearly as promising years back, with with SEAL Team 6’s recent elimination of Osama Bin Laden, the pieces were in place to give these soldiers the recognition they deserve.
While Act of Valor probably boasts the best “stuntman” cast of all time, the plot is pretty average. A personnel rescue mission of a CIA agent uncovers a deadly plot involving some smuggler in South America and a deranged jihadist from Eastern Europe…yep, it’s Call of Duty. That doesn’t really matter, though - like many other war movies, Act of Valor exists to show the deep bond between the soldiers carrying out the mission and their families back home, not to craft a dizzying Jason Bourne-like story. And in this respect, it is very successful.
Now while the action is unquestionably fantastic, most critic reviews I have read center on the “wooden” acting of SEALs. While they are in no way wrong to describe it that way, they are kind of missing the point in my opinion. The reason I enjoyed this movie (outside of the great action) was the refreshing use of real people. While some films really pull off the brotherhood thing (Black Hawk Down), I don’t necessarily need another film with A-list actors to over-dramatize a human conflict and feed me some cliche lines like “it’s about the man next to you.” DON’T get me wrong, I love those movies and I love that particular line, but it’s just not exactly original anymore. Act of Valor - instead of trying to tell you what to feel, more so tries to show you what to feel, and it works.
To be fair, I won’t say this movie doesn’t have a bunch of cliches. Outside of the plot which I already touched on, Act of Valor does suffer from a rather predictable series of events in terms of which characters die and how it affects the others. I don’t want to give away anymore, but you’ll know what I mean when you watch it.
Overall, Act of Valor was a great time. I know it has shortcomings, but because of the unique situation in having real Navy SEALs and average writers…I felt I had to judge it purely on the action. And in that arena I award it an 8/10. If the writers could have let the SEALs use lines that were more natural for them and not try to fit these amazing warriors into a cookie cutter package for the masses, it would have truly been a special movie. Even so, I highly recommend it!