Published on March 12th, 2012 | by thefish70
Review: Act of Valor (2 stars)
Act of Valor is an action film featuring active duty US Navy SEALs portraying SEALs carrying out a mission to rescue an abducted CIA agent. Intelligence gathered during the mission expands the scope and intensity of the mission. Against this backdrop, Act of Valor proves to be a competent action film that doesn’t totally overdo it with the propaganda/recruiting angle of things.
This movie is interesting for a couple of reasons: the use of actual SEALs and it’s almost throwback sensibilities. Both factors come with positives and negatives. First let’s talk about SEALs. This movie’s action feels incredibly realistic and I think the SEALs themselves are a big part of it. They know how to use their weapons, they know how to move, and they know how to use the lingo of professional warriors. The direct access to SEALs also means that the military advisement was very effective. Nothing felt Rambo or videogamish in terms of superhuman action or stunts. For me, this was a fascinating way to make an action movie and made it all worth watching. Now for the downside, these are SEALs, not professional movie actors. This leads to problems any time they’re asked to do something other than kick ass and take names.
The second thing about this movie that struck me was that it was a total throwback in terms of how it was made. The bad guys are bad guys, you know this, and this film’s not going to challenge that concept. The other half of that equation is that our good guys are good guys. You are never asked to question this… It’s how I remember action movies from 80s. Today’s audiences expect a lot less black and white and this movie felt a little incomplete without any blurring of the lines between good and evil. This allows you to focus on what SEALs are asked to do and how they go about doing it. Technically, I thought the movie was very good. Action was well shot with the best look-down-the-barrel camerawork I’ve ever seen.
In the end, this movie was alright and, in fact, surpassed my expectations. If you like action movies you may enjoy this. If you’re a big fan of the military and want to see something that feels pretty legit, then you’ll probably like this. If you’re after a rumination on the nature of man and his propensity for violence then this movie is not for you.