Via Jonathan Last, this is as close as most of America will ever get to watching real SEALs in action. How do I know? Because the troops here are all played by … active-duty Navy SEALs. Really.

It started out as a training video and things just sort of ballooned:

Act of Valor has an unusual backstory. The film, directed by Mike “Mouse” McCoy and Scott Waugh, started out as a training video for Navy SEALS. The Navy liked what they saw so much that they decided to turn it into a documentary.

Then, they decided to make a feature, and hired screenwriter Kurt Johnstad (300) to create a fictional story about a squad that goes on a covert mission to recover a kidnapped CIA agent.

Another interesting aspect of the upcoming feature, which will hit theaters on February 17, is that the SEALS are played by actual SEALS. The bad guys, however, are played by actors, including Emilio Rivera and Roselyn Sanchez.

This sort of thing has worked before. And thanks to the SEALs’ new place in the national consciousness post-Bin Laden, there are bound to be curiosity-seekers swinging by the theater who might not have bitten on this last year. Exit question: How much at the box office? Over/under is $50 million.

Update: Commenters are wondering whether the Navy put up the money — i.e. our money — to bankroll this. Good question. Maybe that’s the way we’ll finally eliminate the deficit. All Obama needs to do is finance ten or twenty thousand superhero blockbusters and we’re out of the fiscal hole.