Posted by: Scott Groves | February 25, 2012

Movie review – Act of Valor

As a Veteran of the Army, and someone who had aspirations of joining Special Forces prior to getting burnt out on the drudgery of Fort Riley Kansas, I’m a sucker for movies like Act of Valor.

Alive, dead, maimed or celebrated as a hero – there is a small part of me who wishes I would have stayed the course and made an honest run at making Special Forces back in 1999 when I was in amazing shape.  Maybe I would have made it onto a team like my buddy Sgt. McGlassen, maybe I would have tweaked my ankle during the selection process like my buddy Sgt. Gabriel and washed out, or maybe I would have stayed on as an active duty infantry man and gotten my leg blown to bits like my buddy Sgt. Roberts.  As it is, I separated from the military with an honorable discharge in 2000 right before the tempo of the US military went into overdrive.  My life clearly took a different path and for the most part I’m happy with my decision.

Movies like this give me a peak into what might have been.

The film Act of Valor follows a fairly formulaic plot.  Bad guy has a new and devastating type of weapon that will be unleashed against America within days.  A bad-ass group of American super soldiers intervene.

The amazing part about this movie is that all the bad-ass soldiers are actually real-life bad-ass soldiers.  The cast consists primarily of active duty and retired Navy Seals.  The story about how this movie came to be keeps changing as it gains in popularity.  I’ve heard varying stories about it starting out as a promotional video for the Navy, a training video and/or a 10 minute short film to inspire our troops or a low budget full feature film.   No matter what the reason for this film getting made, I’m glad it was.

Right now Americans have a bit of soft spot in our heart for the Navy Seals.  Since the daring and successful raid to kill Osama Bin Laden by Seal Team 6 last year, the country has been experiencing some sort of worship syndrome as it pertains to our U.S. Special Forces. This movie will definitely reinforce those feelings.

In the real world, politicians, tired of answering questions about financing two wars and the body count associated with full-scale invasions, have started to rely more-and-more on citing the small operations of “Special Forces” as the future of warfare.   This movie shows a fictionalized scenario where that might become a reality.

The acting and delivery of much of the dialogue is average or just plain bad.  However, I was able to overlook it as I’m sure the “actors” didn’t have much time to fit in acting classes between learning to scuba-dive, sky-dive and fire every weapon known to man as real-life Navy Seals are required to do.

As expected, the action scenes are extremely realistic.  There are several scenes where the cinematography switches to a first person shooter view, just like a video game.  Clearing rooms in an enemy strong-hold or returning fire at the bad-guys, the movie-goer sees the action from right over the M-4 crosshairs.  By hearing the chaos of war alongside the controlled breathing of the soldier, the audience is drawn into the action in a way I’ve rarely experienced in a movie.

The plot is good enough to move the movie along at a solid pace.  The two main bad-guys are unbelievable at best and laughable at their worst – oh well.  The relationship between soldiers is great and I wish it would have been explored a bit more.  A crying wife doesn’t mean very much to me if the relationship between characters hasn’t been developed, but maybe I’m asking too much out of this film.

At times the movie comes off as a recruiting tool for the Navy Seals, but overall I enjoyed it and found myself shedding a tear a couple of times throughout the film.

Definitely worth seeing on the big-screen.

Here is the trailer for Act of Valor:

And just in case you missed it, here is Charlie Sheen and Michael Biehn playing Navy Seals in one my favorite films from the 80’s.

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