Synopsis: An unprecedented blend of real-world heroism and original filmmaking, Act of Valor stars a group of active-duty U.S. Navy SEALs in a motion picture unlike any in Hollywood history. A fictionalized account of real-life U.S. Navy SEAL operations, Act of Valor features a gripping story that takes audiences on an adrenaline-fueled, edge-of-the-seat journey through a dangerous and unpredictable world.
Release Date: February 24, 2012 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Genre(s): Action, Documentary
Act of Valor is a special film, and one that has not been done before–as it features real active duty Navy SEALs, professional actors, and is based on “actual events” or “real acts of valor.” The never-been-done part is of course the casting of real people, who perform the actions in the film as their career, in a scripted narrative feature. The film is also the first to have the support of Naval Special Warfare, which includes the U.S. Navy SEALs and the SWCC; and they were integral in the creation of the story. Act of Valor is a truly unique experience when you know the background of the making-of the film; the film itself could have been one of the greatest war combat films ever made, if it were not for the one thing that truly makes the film stand apart from the traditional war genre film, or documentary. This is of course the use of real people playing actors at playing themselves. Everything else in Act of Valor is nearly outstanding.
The film begins with a voiceover by one of the SEALs, who is telling a child about his father. Who this man is, and of whom he is speaking, is not revealed to the viewer. Through his words the viewer sees how SEALs view one another; the incredible respect, the bravery they hold, and how this boy’s father is seen as a hero. The set-up is a premonition for what will happen to one Navy SEAL in the film, finding out who it is does not occur until the very end of the mission. After an introduction to the team of SEALs that will be the main characters of the film it is all about the mission they are being sent on–to rescue a CIA operative who has been taken prisoner in Costa Rica on order of a Drug Lord, Christo (Alex Veadov). This is when the movie gets good, really good, because this is when the military special ops begins. The entire scene where they rescue Agent Morales (Roselyn Sanchez) is incredible. The techniques employed feel authentic, more authentic than you have ever seen in a narrative feature film. The ways the SEALs work together to plan, execute, and manage the operation is thrilling to watch; the realization that these men, these REAL men, do this for a living every day is eye-opening. It also creates an entirely new level of respect for the SEALs from a viewer–even if they do seem a little too trigger happy. The take no prisoners philosophy is being employed in Act of Valor.
Act of Valor seems like it would end after the initial rescue, but at only one-hour in that is not the case. The story continues on to build upon Agent Morales’ case against Christo that leads it in the direction of a terrorist; all the way to Ukraine and even Mexico. It is a tightly knit story about a very extreme case of terrorism. The thought of this being a reality is terrifying; knowing these men, and their amazing skill-sets are working to stop the threats provides a sense of relief, and calm. It is difficult to rate a film like Act of Valor because it is true-to-life for the real SEALs acting in it, and it is hard to fault them for not being professional actors. But that is the problem when watching Act of Valor. The action scenes are amazing, the time spent with the SEALs is painful when the script calls for them to be humanized. These men are having discussions about their lives, their children, being a father and husband, and so on, and they have no authenticity in their emotions. The fact that they are not actors, but playing at being actors, is far too evident. It is reminiscent of a reenactment of a crime from a show such as “America’s Most Wanted.” The subject matter is important, even intense, but the actors in the scenes do not have talent on screen, and thus it becomes taxing to watch.
Choosing to see Act of Valor is not a bad choice if you love great action, and I mean GREAT action, and really want to see how a live military operation actually happens. You must realize though that with this choice will come the acceptance that the time spent outside of combat will not be very enjoyable; but it is passable in order to get back to the SEALs in action.
Act of Valor promises action. It delivers on that promise, beyond expectations. Using real-world combat techniques, in real-world combat situations, the weapons the SEALs use are what they actually use in the field. The cool gadgets, like a remote control aircraft, no bigger than the one you use at home, that enables the SEALs to see targets from high in the sky, are every bit as “cool” as those used in big budget Hollywood action films. As for the action itself, it is full-blown craziness in the field. Bombs explode, bullets fire at lightning speed, and the sniper shots will have you in awe of how talented the SEALs are at their respective jobs. Not to mention the way the men work together, as a unit, to complete the missions. They are incredibly in sync, even when split into separate groups, and when they plan meeting in order to complete the mission it is an explosive moment of force.
Calling into question the ‘R’ rating of Act of Valor is not possible after witnessing the amount of blood, the killings, the methods employed against the enemy, and the deluge of gunfire/explosions and all-out madness in battle. Surprisingly, this is all done without the use of profanity; or perhaps it was too loud with all of the action going on to hear. If you want action, crave action, and can stomach the bloodiest action used against “real” men, Act of Valor was made for your movie-going taste.
It came as quite a shock when Agent Morales was taken prisoner. This is because she is a woman, and while women are taken hostage all the time in movies they are not treated like Agent Morales. She is beaten within an inch of her life. Her body tortured, with blood running everywhere and her face swollen. The torture tools you see used on men in films all the time are used on Agent Morales, including the automatic screwdriver. It is very difficult to watch the brutality used against a woman as it is in Act of Valor. At the same time it adds to the authenticity of the film. Women Agents are taken captive, they are beaten for information, and those who take them do not treat them any differently than they would a man. The truth may be hard to watch, and hard to believe, but it is the truth behind this decision in the script, and many others, that makes Act of Valor unique, and undoubtedly thought-provoking.
Cast and Crew
- Director(s): Mike McCoy
- Producer(s): Kurt Johnstad
- Screenwriter(s): Alexander AsefaDrea CastroJason Cottle
- Story: Timothy Gibbs
- Cast: Marc Marguilies Siobhan PriorMichael TronickShane HurlbutJohn Zachary
- Cinematographer: Nathan Furst
- Production Designer(s):
- Costume Designer:
- Casting Director(s):
- Music Score:
- Music Performed By:
- Country Of Origin: USA