Act of Valor

Act of Valor is an interesting experiment. With a team of actual Seals cast in the lead roles, and some lesser-known actors in the satellite parts, it rings somewhat true to life. But because there isn’t much beyond by-the-numbers action and dialogue, it doesn’t transport or engage.

Nonetheless, it’s not bad.

Here’s a trailer:

The deets:

Released February 24, 2012

Written by Kurt Johnstad

Directed by Mike McCoy and Scott Waugh

Starring Roselyn Sanchez, Nestor Serrano, Alex Veadov, Jason Cottle, and a group of active duty Seals

Rated: R

*     *     *     *     *

Story

Bandito Platoon is a platoon of active-duty Navy Seals, each of whom plays himself in this film. After an opening set-up of these men’s family lives, wherein we learn that one of them is soon to be a father, they are called into action to rescue an intelligence operative (Sanchez) who’s been taken captive by some baddies in South America. She was getting close to finding out more about an operation being prepped by Abu Shabal (Cottle), who is working with Christo (Veadov), and they found out and caught her to torture her into revealing how much she knows.

The operation is phenomenal. These are the actual men doing actual Seal tactics, and they are fluid and competent and incredibly brutal. There’s never a doubt that they’re going to win; they’re the meanest, smartest, and best prepared people in the fighting ring.

Upon the successful rescue of the operative, they gain intelligence that a terrorist threat is imminent, about to be carried out by Shabal, and they are given the go-ahead to stop Shabal, who is guilty of a vicious attack that killed a single US diplomat and a number of young children. He bombed an ice cream truck.

So the team goes after him in a desperate bid to stop the attack. What follows is remarkable in its realism and suspense. Great battle scenes.

Critique

I’ve never seen a film like this. The leads are in no way charismatic actors who know how to let the audience into their souls. They openly live by what many would call an outdated or macho code, sounding nearly brainwashed. But these men have given themselves completely over to a life as warriors who must never doubt the righteousness of their actions and cause. You can’t criticize them with any standing because they stand on a line and fight back the dark.

So I wasn’t engaged in the stories of the men; I was engaged in the tactics, power, and sheer brutality of what they did. What is demonstrated in this movie is the principle of overwhelming strength winning the day. Also demonstrated is the fact that the entire life of these men and their families is an act of valor, although there are certainly significant specific acts of valor sprinkled throughout the film.

There is a quiet stirring that comes from this film– it is a window into something like a religion, lives lived in total devotion to a cause, doubt never allowed to enter minds and hearts. Because that seems to be what it takes to breed and train men who will stand on that line and do what needs to be done. And these men aren’t brutes; they’re smart, incredibly well-trained, thoughtful, good men. They love, and play, and live each moment very large and very genuinely.

I can’t recommend this movie very much; it’s incredibly violent and blood flies and the characters are not important, really. But it’s quite an experience for those interested.

Content warnings: Lots of violence, some harsh language.

Writing: 3          Acting: 2          Overall: 3

Be valiant in the sharing of this review.

I am very curious to know your reaction to Act of Valor. What did you think of the non-actors? Did it transport you like a normal film? Why or why not?

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About jared

Jared Garrett works as a writer, the manager of a program development department in the corporate world, and an instructional designer. He is a family man with an adorable, fun, and way-too-smart wife, six silly kids, a new house with an overgrown back yard, seven fish, and a bunch of chickens. He has written fiction, user manuals, SEO copy, radio scripts and textbooks and has won first place in the Mayhew writing contest at BYU and received honorable mention in the Writers of the Future contest. He lives at the foot of the Wasatch Mountains and is currently seeking representation for his myriad completed novels.
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