Act of Valor is a movie about the US Navy Seals, with the roles portrayed by actual navy seals themselves. All in all it’s quite an impressive fact on it’s own, but does it have what it takes to be an actual entertaining movie?
A lot of that depends on your point of view regarding the ‘authenticity’ of this movie. From what I’ve read and heard from people who are far more knowledgeable the terminology is all very realistic. The procedures shown probably are as well, but a lot of ‘realistic’ questions pop up as well.
Because the main contradicting fact about this whole endeavour is the fact that in the end: it’s a movie, it’s not the real thing. And ofcourse every movie wants you to dive into the realism it depects, whether it’s the world of ‘Avatar’ or the adventures of Indiana Jones, but when a movie claims to be the real deal, you also have a lot of questions you wouldn’t have on ‘Die Hard’.
For instance, if you hit a man who’s wearing a highly combustable bombjacket, why doesn’t he explode?
If you crash into a lake with 60 mph, why does everybody swim out without a scratch?
There are a lot more instances where you get that internal debate, probably one that the director’s must have had as well, whether to choose for realism or for a movie like approach.
On top of that, the movie is filled with horrible clichéd dialogue as well, it’s patriottic and it’s a lot of: ‘you must hide your pain’, ‘fighting is the only means of survival’, ‘you can’t have peace without war’.
The movie itself is built around the diabolical character of Christo (yes, that sentence was filled with sarcasm) a Escobar type guy who smuggles drugs with the help of a former friend, which just so happens to be a muslim extremist as well. And in one of the only scenes that does work, we get a very gruesome opening scene which introduces him.
From there on out we get a two-act movie, one is a mission to free a CIA operative who has been held captive in the jungle, and the last part is the hunt for Christo and the preventing of a global attack on the USA.
While it does have it’s moments which make you respect the work that the Seals do, it’s hard to feel for them.
You don’t get to know anyone because of the severe lack of character development and on top of that: there just not very good actors. Their dialogue comes across as stiff and uninspiring.
If you want to know more about a specialist military unit I would suggest to read the book ‘Bravo Two Zero’ by Andy McNab, which is a very detailed account about the work and missions of the SAS (the British equivalent of the Seals).
And let’s face it, if they are actual Seals, would they want to be on a big screen with their faces, waiting to be recognized and/or remembered by those who want to do them harm…no.