(Originally written July 24, 2012)
Act of Valor is a unique movie in that is the first movie to have a completely unaccredited cast. This is because most of the actors are active duty US Navy SEALs. That’s very interesting. I still wonder how this came about and how this got okayed by the government and such. After watching the movie, I kinda stopped caring. I wouldn’t say Act of Valor is a bad movie… Just one that is ultimately uninteresting. The story is basically like most military FPS games made into a movie. This really reminded me a lot of Medal of Honor (2010), Battlefield 3, Call of Duty (Okay, not that crazy). I’m not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing? Personally, I am tired of games like that so I see it as bad. People who love those games and keep buying them might love this movie. Like I said though, the story is typical of military FPS game as in its cliché and just moves from one set piece to the other. It even has a GPS like satellite that shows the locations they are in and with little briefings just like in those games. The story involves Russian/Muslim/cartel extremists that are trying to carry out a terrorist attack on the US and it’s up to the SEALS to stop them. Easy and straight forward and plot isn’t really the point of this movie. It is basically a feature length SEAL commercial so yes, this movie is more or less propaganda and this was of course, made in the wake of SEAL Team 6 taking out Bin Laden. By the way, I’m sure in the future, there will be a movie made about that mission.
The acting is something that stands out and not in a good way. The two main characters have pretty monotone voices and their level of acting is pretty limited. The other SEALs, you learn very little about. You seem them with families at the beginning but then you never really see them again which is fine with me. It was a bad attempt at trying to develop emotional attachment to these characters and it fails. The bad guys actually have actors and they actually do a good job being.. bad guys and doing bad guy things. There is an interesting relationship between to two villains but it ultimately doesn’t matter or is it really explored. Haha but once again I’m missing the point of the movie: SEAL commercial. Hands down, the best scenes are watching the action scenes which you see SEALs what they do best, raid, kill, infiltrate, and all that good spec ops stuff. These scenes are shot very well and use a lot of first person camera angles once again adding to that military FPS feel. The dialogue is filled with a lot of military jargon which makes briefings and their talk on missions feel legit but I’m guessing this was basically just all one big training operation for them pretty much. I can’t help but feel this would have made for a better documentary by having interviews with the SEALs and military experts between the action scenes. I think that would have worked better than making a movie about a fictional scenario.
One thing that I did noticed that actually made me laugh was the digitally inserted muzzle flashes, one of which looked exactly like the muzzle flashes we used in my zombie movie. I will say, from what I can tell, this is one of the much more accurate modern war movies I’ve seen. I’d hope so since they had actual SEALs there. So I’ll say it was much more accurate than The Hurt Locker was.
Bottom line, this movie has clearly made for people in the military or around it. Or people who like modern military FPS games. Most people I know in the military didn’t seem to like it. I personally think its okay but nothing special about it. If you get the chance to see it for free and you like this kinda stuff, go for it. Otherwise, skip it.