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Review: Act of Valor

Act of Valor
Feb. 24, 2012by:
6 10

PLOT: A Navy SEAL team is sent to rescue an undercover CIA agent, who alerts them to a terrorist plot to deploy suicide bombers throughout the US, through a drug cartel-run secret cross-border tunnel in Mexico.

REVIEW: ACT OF VALOR is a film I had deep reservations about. Directed by the ďBandito BrothersĒ, Mike McCoy and Scott Waugh, who are well-known and respected for their documentaries DUST TO GLORY, and STEP INTO LIQUID, ACT OF VALOR is a film made in full cooperation with Naval Special Warfare, and actually features former active duty Navy SEALS in the lead roles. Naturally, given the close relationship between the filmmakers and the SEALS, the finished product is essentially a SEAL recruiting film. Itís not that different from the types of films John Wayne used to star in during his heyday, so if youíre expecting a gritty, nuanced look at the life of a Navy SEAL, youíre not going to get it here.


However, if what you want are a whole bunch of high-octane, ultra realistic action scenes faithfully depicting real combat missions (although the storyline is fictional)- ACT OF VALOR delivers exactly that. As an action film, ACT OF VALOR is successful, as the two major operations depicted are incredible to watch. Some of the stuff that goes down is completely bug nuts insane, and the idea that things like a guy being hit in the chest by a rocket that turns out to be a dud are real just blows your mind. The action sequences are brutal (this babyís R-rated), free of Hollywood cheese, and never less than thrilling.

But once the firefights stop, thatís when the problems with ACT OF VALOR become apparent. First, the SEALS that star in the film are great in the action scenes, but to a man their acting is pretty stilted and awkward. Granted, they arenít professional actors, but Iím puzzled as to why the Bandito Brothers were so insistent on casting real SEALS in all the lead roles, as they could have cast legit actors and just had them doubled in the action scenes. Their casting feels gimmicky.

As the guys are all retired from active duty, none of them are credited by their real names- and theyíre all listed only by their rank, and the code names assigned to their characters in the film. In some ways, this reminds me of a great old British SAS movie called WHO DARES WINS, which listed the SAS consultants as ??? It all looks pretty slick in the press notes and on screen, but as their faces are on display for millions to see, is it anything more than a publicity stunt them not using their names?


Being produced in full cooperation with the U.S Armed Forces, you should also expect a pretty two-dimensional look at the Navy SEAL lifestyle. To a man, theyíre all happily married family men, free of any character flaws or bad habits. This is probably the image the Armed Forces want to represent, but at a certain point this stops being a film, and becomes a recruiting tool- especially in the ultra-patriotic wrap-up. Heck, the Navy even apparently had final cut privileges (according to Wikipedia), and I never like the feeling that what Iím watching is pure propaganda.

But, the fact remains that the action scenes, which are the real reason anyoneís even talking about this film in the first place, are pretty dynamic. Technically, the film is pretty polished, and looks mighty good for something that reportedly only cost $15 million to produce. The Bandito Brothers certainly have a future in making action films, although it remains to be seen whether they can craft a film where the storyline is anything other than an excuse to jump from one set piece to the next.

If you like military-style action films, Iím pretty sure that youíll enjoy ACT OF VALOR, although Iíd urge anyone that goes to see this to keep in mind that itís propaganda. Something like Katherine Bigelowís upcoming SEAL film is probably more to my tastes, but as a purely visceral experience, it canít be denied that ACT OF VALOR kinda works.

Source: JoBlo.com

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11:53AM on 02/24/2012

DUH

Sure its propaganda, but everything in hollywood is these days, and I hate it. I can imagine this movie was made to show good things about the military, since every other movie shows that every soldier is fucked up or the army couldnt give a shit about them. I like that a movie like this has been made, and I want to see it.
Sure its propaganda, but everything in hollywood is these days, and I hate it. I can imagine this movie was made to show good things about the military, since every other movie shows that every soldier is fucked up or the army couldnt give a shit about them. I like that a movie like this has been made, and I want to see it.
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3:33AM on 02/24/2012
I just refuse to accept any Navy SEAL movie that doesn't star Charlie Sheen.
I just refuse to accept any Navy SEAL movie that doesn't star Charlie Sheen.
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11:02AM on 02/24/2012

I'll give it a shot

So there won't be any scenes of them chasing down a tow truck with a bike to get their reposessed car back? Just remember that Charlie Sheen could not climb the wall at one of the SEAL's training facilities. Maybe they cannot act well but that is not what they were trained for. Enjoy the movie for what it is. Is it a recruiting film? I'm sure that any military themed movie is. Even "Abbot and Costello join the Army" may have boosted numbers a bit.
So there won't be any scenes of them chasing down a tow truck with a bike to get their reposessed car back? Just remember that Charlie Sheen could not climb the wall at one of the SEAL's training facilities. Maybe they cannot act well but that is not what they were trained for. Enjoy the movie for what it is. Is it a recruiting film? I'm sure that any military themed movie is. Even "Abbot and Costello join the Army" may have boosted numbers a bit.
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+1
9:35AM on 02/24/2012
I got the gimmicky vibe from the trailers that you mentioned.
None of the trailers gave any indication as to the plot or what was driving the action scenes - just "REAL NAVY SEALS" every ten seconds and loud pump up music.
I suppose it isn't a surprise then the action works and the dramatic stuff isn't stellar.
Good review.
I got the gimmicky vibe from the trailers that you mentioned.
None of the trailers gave any indication as to the plot or what was driving the action scenes - just "REAL NAVY SEALS" every ten seconds and loud pump up music.
I suppose it isn't a surprise then the action works and the dramatic stuff isn't stellar.
Good review.
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+1
2:20AM on 02/24/2012
Eh, I may catch this on video, but I'm not really all that interested in sitting through this in the theater. The whole thing just seems gimmicky, and while the action might be great, if the stories and characters aren't really that well done, I might as well stay home and play a video game. Certainly the realistic bent to the action is interesting, but I'd much more appreciate a more middle road look at the SEAL lifestyle, as opposed to this ultra-patriotic attempt to show the military in all
Eh, I may catch this on video, but I'm not really all that interested in sitting through this in the theater. The whole thing just seems gimmicky, and while the action might be great, if the stories and characters aren't really that well done, I might as well stay home and play a video game. Certainly the realistic bent to the action is interesting, but I'd much more appreciate a more middle road look at the SEAL lifestyle, as opposed to this ultra-patriotic attempt to show the military in all its glory.
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7:54PM on 02/24/2012

THis movie looks sick

:)
:)
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12:14PM on 02/24/2012
As far as I can tell, this seems a lot like John Wayne's 'The Green Berets.' Remarkable for its military accuracy and staging of action scenes, but will leave you with a knot in your stomach for how polished & neat it is as a propaganda war film.

I'll catch this on Cable as part of a beer-fueled triple feature with 'The Delta Force' and 'Team America: World Police.'
As far as I can tell, this seems a lot like John Wayne's 'The Green Berets.' Remarkable for its military accuracy and staging of action scenes, but will leave you with a knot in your stomach for how polished & neat it is as a propaganda war film.

I'll catch this on Cable as part of a beer-fueled triple feature with 'The Delta Force' and 'Team America: World Police.'
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8:13AM on 02/24/2012
This is what I expected, and I'm glad, because I basically have no choice but to see this tonight (my friends are all going).

At least you say the action is good. We'll probably end up MST3000ing the "dramatic" scenes anyway.

I prefer my mindless action to be propaganda-free. Then again, I watch Donnie Yen movies and a lot of those are basically Chinese propaganda flicks...
This is what I expected, and I'm glad, because I basically have no choice but to see this tonight (my friends are all going).

At least you say the action is good. We'll probably end up MST3000ing the "dramatic" scenes anyway.

I prefer my mindless action to be propaganda-free. Then again, I watch Donnie Yen movies and a lot of those are basically Chinese propaganda flicks...
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-1
4:14AM on 02/24/2012
Strangely this brings to mind of the Simpsons episode where the Navy trys to use boy band music to brainwash the masses.
Strangely this brings to mind of the Simpsons episode where the Navy trys to use boy band music to brainwash the masses.
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1:41AM on 02/27/2012
trailer told us absolutely nothing about the film, no thanks
trailer told us absolutely nothing about the film, no thanks
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-3
2:18PM on 02/24/2012

since the first trailers came out

it looked like CALL OF DUTY: THE MOVIE and now hearing all the reviews from it it certainly seems like they should've just titled it that anyway (I mean seriously, they would've made a boat load of cash to boot if they just licensed the name, jesus!)
it looked like CALL OF DUTY: THE MOVIE and now hearing all the reviews from it it certainly seems like they should've just titled it that anyway (I mean seriously, they would've made a boat load of cash to boot if they just licensed the name, jesus!)
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-6
9:57AM on 02/24/2012

kevlar7

This movie is a propaganda / recruiting tool!?? How f-ing braindead do you have to be to not get that? I told my students that after they see this, they better be ready to run the gauntlet of armed forces recruiters who will be hanging out in front of the theatre. I love my country, but "sheesh"
This movie is a propaganda / recruiting tool!?? How f-ing braindead do you have to be to not get that? I told my students that after they see this, they better be ready to run the gauntlet of armed forces recruiters who will be hanging out in front of the theatre. I love my country, but "sheesh"
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10:11AM on 02/24/2012
Oh great are you one of those bleeding heart liberals ruining our youths future?
Oh great are you one of those bleeding heart liberals ruining our youths future?
10:26AM on 02/24/2012
Nope, libertarian (not a teatard). Oh great, are you one of those brain dead fox watching zombies, who see liberal conspiracies everywhere when it does not match up with your extreme right-wing views?
Nope, libertarian (not a teatard). Oh great, are you one of those brain dead fox watching zombies, who see liberal conspiracies everywhere when it does not match up with your extreme right-wing views?
10:35AM on 02/24/2012
You do know what a libertarian is, right?
You do know what a libertarian is, right?
1:08PM on 02/24/2012
All you people who have a problem with a movie celebrating patriotism and the military of the United States of America can kiss my ass
All you people who have a problem with a movie celebrating patriotism and the military of the United States of America can kiss my ass
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