February 28, 2012

Movie Review: Act of Valor

Act of Valor is an interesting release. It is one that really only has one thing going for it and the studio latched onto that and used it as pretty much the sole selling point. It is a movie that I was really only interested in seeing for one reason, that being the sole selling point. If you did not already know, and if you have seen any of the advertisements for it how could you not, the bog selling point of this is the involvement of active duty Navy SEALs. It is certainly am intriguing selling point to say the least. Their involvement would lead one to believe there to be a higher degree of authenticity to the action. Indeed there is.

Outside of the plentiful action bits the movie is pretty terrible. The acting is awful, the story is virtually non-existent, and everything seems to have been designed to show off the toys and skills at the disposal of the military. This does not seem too much of a stretch for a movie whose production history began with intentions to creat a recruitment video. It would seem the end result provides them with the best of both worlds, a serviceable recruitment video and a movie that will generate revenue. Hmmm, I am beginning to smell a conspiracy.

Anyway, there is no way around it, Act of Valor wears its patriotism on its sleeve. From the opening voice over to the full dress funeral at the end, the movie seems to be daring you not to like it just so you can be labeled unAmerican. It might have succeeded had it actually been a better movie.

There are two parts to the story. The first half centers on the rescue of an undercover operative who was working a case looking to connect an arms dealer with a jihadist cell. The second half sees the team sent right back out after the daring rescue to stop a terrorist from smuggling suicide bombers into the United States by way of tunnels in Mexico.

Not much time is really spent on developing the stories, the movie is not really about that. Outside the opening introductions, there is not a lot of time spent developing the characters, this movie is not about that. This is about watching SEALs and probably a few actors enact fictionalized versions of real missions using actual techniques and gear. It was pretty interesting watching them do their thing. I have seen military movies before but the action here felt different, more authentic. Even the gunshots had a different feel, as if the sound was sampled from live rounds being fired off.

Beyond the atrocious acting and weak story, there was something else that I liked about the movie that could also count against it. The filmmakers seemed to want to get a little fancy with the camerawork and it occasionally obscures he tactics (maybe this was on purpose?). There is also a lot of first person sequences which made me wonder when the Call of Duty map pack was coming out.

In the end, it was entertaining enough. It is not really a good movie, but I did like the action. When it is over you will either be won over by the blatant patriotism or you will be wondering what the hype was for.

Mildly Recommended.


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