Hi, Bryan Here….
I’ll come right out and say it. I enjoyed the hell out of ‘Act of Valor’. It was intense, thrilling, and a lot of fun. That being said, it has its flaws. ‘Act of Valor’ separates itself from other action and military films by having real navy seals play themselves rather than have actors portray navy seals. The result is bittersweet.
Bittersweet in the way that real navy seals are not actors and it shows. It’s kind of brutal. But, the good thing with having these real navy seals on screen is that they add the realness to every part of the movie. From the dialogue, to the technology, to the tactical way they secure locations and rescue people. It all works and never seems over the top. The whole film seems like one big way to get people to sign up for the military. I must admit some of it is very enticing. The cool gadgets they use to do surveillance on enemies and some of the weapons are really cool. It was great to get a glimpse of what our tax dollars are working at.
The story is one we have heard before with the same over the top villain. Yes, other than the seals, everyone else is an actor who you most likely will recognize in some capacity. The villain is not cartoony per se but he is definitely laughable and forced to be super villain status for no reason. He basically hates America for no apparent reason other than his God tells him too. He wants no money or weapons. He just wants american citizens to die. We see this early on when he *SPOILER* blows up a bunch of kids getting out of school. *END OF SPOILER* This just seems over the top and not necessary. Yeah, we get it. He’s a bad person. It reminded me of that villain in the recent ‘Rambo’ film where the main villain led an army to rape and kill innocent people. But just to prove how evil he was, he was shown to have relations with little boys. Again. Unnecessary. So this main villain in ‘Act of Valor’ has a plan to blow him and his several followers up with these undetectable bomb vests that could kill 1000’s of people who are in the vicinity of him. Military intel gets wind of this guy and the navy seals are sent on a mission bit by bit to stop him and his followers by any means. From here we see the navy seal team go on various missions, much like a video game, to defeat the main enemy. And all these missions are intense and action packed. Very exhilarating.
I was told that the gun fire in the movie during a certain scene was real and it was pretty powerful seeing that and knowing how dangerous that is. It was also incredible to see one of the big US submarines appear in the middle of the ocean on the surface and the Navy seals run across the top of it and board the submarine which took all of a few seconds. Now that might not seem like much, but this was an actual submarine on duty in real life. We were told that the filmmakers had exactly 4 hours to locate the submarine in general coordinates, set up, and film the scene before the sub went under again. It was pretty spectacular. I also enjoyed how some of the scenes where the seals were in combat were filmed. They were shot in first person, much like a video game. It made the tension so thick, that you could pour it over pancakes. In addition to real navy seals being in the film, their real families were in the film playing themselves and when the time came for them to go on their mission, all their emotions ran high, and you could tell it was all real and something they go through all the time. How tough that must be.
By the end of the film, quite a few people around me were in tears. However, I was not. I was just not connected with any of the characters. I thought ‘Act of Valor’ was a lot of fun. But, in addition to that, perhaps the filmmakers wanted something more for the audience to take away, and for me it just wasn’t there. I enjoyed it as an action film, but nothing more. And it definitely wants to be something more than that, which it’s not. I know the filmmakers wanted to show a realistic portrayal of the lives and missions of a navy seal team, but with an over the top plot line and villain, it’s hard to take in. I do recommend the film on its willingness to be different and it being a decent action film, but if you were hoping for something more, you might not find what you’re looking for.