Film review: Act of Valor

posted at 8:00 am on February 25, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

Americans love military and action films, as box office returns show. But what if filmmakers eschewed ridiculous plot lines for actual missions fought by American commandos, along with realistic depictions of terrorism, violence, and weapons fire?  And what if most of the actors on screen aren’t actors at all, but actual Navy SEALs?  Act of Valor tells those stories and uses those fighting men — and the result is an excellent action movie that keeps viewers riveted to the action until the very end.

The film opens in cross cuts between a SEAL team on leave and a CIA operative who gets captured in Costa Rica after she tracks down a Russian drug smuggler — and discovers that he’s also facilitating for a Chechen Islamist terrorist group, which just conducted a successful attack on a school in the Philippines.  The SEALs think their mission is over until their commander gets intel from a phone captured during the rescue and discovers that the Chechen terrorist leader has plans to attack inside the US, using suicide-bomb vests that can defeat any metal detector.  Can the SEALs stop the group from infiltrating through Mexico and wreaking havoc and mayhem inside the US?

Act of Valor turned out to be surprisingly entertaining, and very well made.  The production qualities are excellent, and it uses some familiar quick-cut techniques in the battle scenes that enhance the action, but otherwise uses traditional approaches in cinematography.  The sea chase scenes are especially good, but nothing beats the depictions of close-in fighting interspersed throughout the film.  I have a friend who has served in the SEALs for decades, and he once told us Tears of the Sun (an excellent film) came closest to depicting how SEALs work in real life.  I suspect that this will move to the top of his list.

The SEALs are also surprisingly good on screen, although clearly new at emoting for an audience, hardly one of the skill sets they find necessary in their work.  That enhances the authenticity of the presentation, though, and it’s very easy to like these men — and to suffer along with them.  There are no archetypes, really; there is one expectant father who wants to come back to see his child be born, a running subplot in the film, but for the most part focuses on the men doing their jobs.  There are a few lighter moments, but no laugh lines or comic subplots.  

Oddly, the film that I think comes closest to this as a comparison is … Backdraft.  That film used a few authentic firefighters in speaking roles and had more backstory and subplots, but it took very seriously its responsibility to tell about the bravery and toughness of firefighters everywhere, and what they have to face.  Act of Valor is a better film for its closer focus and better pacing, but it has that same general feel when it comes to the interactions on screen between the SEALs. It’s easy to take this film seriously when it treats its subject with this much respect.  Act of Valor celebrates traditional values of duty, honor, and especially sacrifice, and reminds us that every day men like these — and these men — keep us from harm we never knew was coming.

Needless to say, this film is rated R for very good reasons.  There are only a couple of instances of cursing, which surprised me a little, but the violence is depicted very realistically (or as realistically as they could get with an R rating).  A number of people get shot, a few blown up, and blood spatter is not spared in those scenes.  There are also depictions of the aftermath of torture involving the CIA agent, not the torture itself, but it’s still pretty intense.  I’d be very cautious about taking a pre-teen to this film, and would strongly suggest to parents to see it by themselves first before thinking about whether pre-teens or younger teens are ready to handle it.

I would highly recommend Act of Valor to everyone else.  There are not a whole lot of movies coming out of Hollywood that tell these stories or celebrate those virtues — in fact, there are damn few of these, just as there are damn few of these men.  We need to flock to the theaters to support those that do get made, and to show our appreciation for the men who made this one.  And fortunately for us, we get to see an excellent and moving film, too.

Be sure to read Kevin McCullough’s deconstruction of some of the criticism Act of Valor has received from the Left.

Update: I had the headline and the first half of the review correct, but about halfway through started calling the move Acts of Valor.  It’s Act [singular] of Valor, and I have corrected it where I had it wrong.


Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

Comment pages: 1 2

We need to flock to the theaters to support those that do get made, and to show our appreciation for the men who made this one.

I’ll be flocking today.

eyesky on February 25, 2012 at 8:06 AM

Kudos to the men and women who serve to protect and defend our Constitutional Government and citizenry.

Hats off to heroic acts of valor.

And to most serious consideration.

maverick muse on February 25, 2012 at 8:07 AM

Hi Ed,

Thanks for answering my question on the Ed Morrissey Show. Now I know that I have to take a look at it before bringing it my 10-year old kiddo who’s a military nut. I was hoping that this stuff could make him see that it’s not all love and fun like in the video games, with HALO, 13, and other stuff like that. We don’t have Gears Of War precisely because of the violence, way worse than other games.

With that said, I think Mr. PPF and I will see it. Don’t know if the earnings or part of the earnings will go to a specific charity, does it?

ProudPalinFan on February 25, 2012 at 8:15 AM

Thanks Ed. I plan on seeing this.

Minor correction though, it is Act not Acts of Valor.

ted c on February 25, 2012 at 8:17 AM

Support it, if for no other reason than to make the heads of Oliver Stone, Sean Penn, Brian De Palma and Robert Redford explode when it’s #1 at the box office.

Rixon on February 25, 2012 at 8:18 AM

Ed, check out rotten tomatoes. No surprise; audiences love it while the critics are displeased:

http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/act_of_valor/

In a similar vein, check out the difference between critic’s scores and audience scores for “Redtails.” If the left cries racism every time a white Republican criticizes Obama, I reserve the right to cry racism every time a white liberal film critic gives a thumbs down to a movie about the Tuskegee airmen.

radjah shelduck on February 25, 2012 at 8:30 AM

Not hating on the movie, which sounds like it could be fun in the right mood, but….

“What if filmmakers eschewed ridiculous plot lines…?

The film opens in cross cuts between a SEAL team on leave and a CIA operative who gets captured in Costa Rica after she tracks down a Russian drug smuggler — and discovers that he’s also facilitating for a Chechen Islamist terrorist group, which just conducted a successful attack on a school in the Philippines. The SEALs think their mission is over until their commander gets intel from a phone captured during the rescue and discovers that the Chechen terrorist leader has plans to attack inside the US, using suicide-bomb vests that can defeat any metal detector.”

Interesting story on how the movie got made.

urban elitist on February 25, 2012 at 8:33 AM

I remember first seeing Navy SEALs during a splashdown of an Apollo space mission. I asked my dad, “Who are those guys, dad?” after they helocast into the water, climbed up onto the capsule and helped get those astronauts out of the hatch. SEALs have a long history back to WWII–the Underwater Demolition Teams. They really got going under JFK and have been KATN since. Great to see stuff like this. Although there is a downside to showing real SOF personnel in this format, the upside is inspiration and recruitment. Every red-blooded kid that hits the pool or longs to jump from an airplane with a gun strapped to him will want to go do this.

ted c on February 25, 2012 at 8:33 AM

Can hardly wait.

~(Ä)~

Karl Magnus on February 25, 2012 at 8:34 AM

From the given trailer, it seems the plot is a terrorist attack stateside, having infiltrated through our US/Mexican Border.

If that’s the scenario, what boots on the ground and border security affect will “Act of Valor” effect? /ex: TSA

maverick muse on February 25, 2012 at 8:41 AM

I have it on my list of movies to see. The ones coming out of Hollywood these days are not usually worth seeing.

SC.Charlie on February 25, 2012 at 8:42 AM

Every red-blooded kid that hits the pool or longs to jump from an airplane with a gun strapped to him will want to go do this.

ted c on February 25, 2012 at 8:33 AM

?!

maverick muse on February 25, 2012 at 8:43 AM

I’ll be checking to see where it’s at here in Oh this weekend, nothing better on a snowy weekend.

angrymike on February 25, 2012 at 8:44 AM

Speaking of Act of Valor; I caught this at Ace of Spades. Today is the anniversary of Airman John Levitow earning, not winning, the Medal of Honor for his extraordinary efforts to save his fellow aircrew over Vietnam after their AC47 gunship was hit by a mortar round.

Read this account of how this guy earned the MOH. an excerpt:

Airman Levitow tried to shake off the dizziness that swarmed through his mind. He felt as if he had been struck a crushing blow by a large piece of wood. In fact, forty pieces of shrapnel had struck him on the right side, peppering his legs and back with wounds that now bled profusely. The aircraft continued to lurch about as the pilot struggled to right it. Then Levitow noticed one of the gunners perilously near the open cargo door. One wrong shift of the yawing airplane and he could be thrown through that doorway to certain death.

http://www.homeofheroes.com/wings/levitow.html

ted c on February 25, 2012 at 8:45 AM

Oh and thank you ed, I never would have known it was out.

angrymike on February 25, 2012 at 8:45 AM

Check out this cool featurette from the movie.

I can’t wait to see this. Unfortunately I can’t make it for opening weekend.

Mord on February 25, 2012 at 8:47 AM

dadgum it Ed, the mrs ted c just had a great idea and set up our sat night plans–we’ll see it 2nite.

ted c on February 25, 2012 at 8:52 AM

Kudos to the men and women who serve to protect and defend our Constitutional Government and citizenry.

maverick muse on February 25, 2012 at 8:07 AM

I appreciate the courage and the work that these brave men do, but let’s stop with propaganda, please. Most of the conflicts we have fought since WWII have been police actions and have done nothing for the defense of our country. Today we are the police of the world and, in case some of you hadn’t noticed, the world hates us for it. We waste billions of dollars and thousands of American lives doing a thankless task that does nothing but make the world a more dangerous place.

It is past time to close our foreign bases, bring our troops home, and mind our own business. Not only will we save our wealth to use for our own benefit, but we will spare many of our military the death and mutilation of war.

woodNfish on February 25, 2012 at 9:06 AM

I did not see this movie, but I’ve read about it elsewhere.

I think it’s good for these men to get more credit than they have, and I’m glad that it’s not the usual execrable Hollywood treatment of our military.

However, I’m not sure about the wisdom of putting active duty special ops soldiers on screen. Also, I heard that the tactics portrayed are very detailed and authentic. I’m not sure if it’s such a good idea to give our enemies such a good look at our “playbook”.

Last (and you can yell at me if you want to), isn’t the main terrorist in the movie Jewish? I’m not saying a terrorist can’t be Jewish, but in my book the realism factor goes to almost nil at that (politically correct?) detail.

RedCrow on February 25, 2012 at 9:13 AM

woodNfish on February 25, 2012 at 9:06 AM

Thanks debbie downer. Why not just let everyone enjoy a rare tribute to a thankless job instead of pissing in the punchbowl?

Mord on February 25, 2012 at 9:13 AM

RedCrow on February 25, 2012 at 9:13 AM

There is a good review on RedState that addresses your concerns about the tactics and identities. They are on a “white” team, not covert, and none of their names appear in the credits.

Mord on February 25, 2012 at 9:17 AM

Mord on February 25, 2012 at 9:17 AM

Ah. Thanks, I’ll go find the review.

RedCrow on February 25, 2012 at 9:18 AM

I think that the last time that real war-hero played himself in a movie was LT Audie Murphy back in WWII.

ted c on February 25, 2012 at 9:19 AM

woodNfish on February 25, 2012 at 9:06 AM

Yes, that worked so well in 1924. /

The small scale of the conflicts since WWII are a direct result of US engagement overseas. So, although we have been in large scale combat like Korea and Vietnam, against the millions killed in WWII they shrink by comparison.

Deterrence of major conflict between large powers requires two facts on the ground: Decisive victories, and maritime supremacy. This is based on what factors cause wars in the Westphalian nation-state era. Cites available upon request. WoodNfish, you have a hope / reality mismatch.

NaCly dog on February 25, 2012 at 9:23 AM

http://www.homeofheroes.com/wings/levitow.html

ted c on February 25, 2012 at 8:45 AM

Wow, I remember reading about that in the Ira Eaker journal published while I was active duty AF. Way more amazing than the normal MOH, which is to die in heroic fashion.

Who is John Galt on February 25, 2012 at 9:24 AM

woodNfish on February 25, 2012 at 9:06 AM

Thanks debbie downer. Why not just let everyone enjoy a rare tribute to a thankless job instead of pissing in the punchbowl?

Mord on February 25, 2012 at 9:13 AM

I enjoy an action film as much as the next guy, and my comment was in response to the quote I pasted, but I also wrote it to make you think.

Enjoy your punch.

woodNfish on February 25, 2012 at 9:32 AM

Thanks, Ed. I’m already a big fan of military movies, so I can’t wait to see this!

plumorchard on February 25, 2012 at 9:35 AM

woodNfish on February 25, 2012 at 9:06 AM

Third grade understanding of geopolitics.

Ellis on February 25, 2012 at 9:37 AM

I was stationed with SEALs for 2 years… True HEROES…

Khun Joe on February 25, 2012 at 9:38 AM

gee ed.. it’s kinda weird you didn’t write anything abiut the fact that they decided to make the bad guy a jew:

Halfway through the movie, in a very exciting action scene, the SEALS capture Christo and the Team’s senior commander interviews him. Christo is oozing greasy sweat and even more greasy arrogance. At any moment, one expects him to call his interrogator “infidel” or say “Allah is Great,” two things we hear with great frequency from those fighting against Americans in Afghanistan, those who fought against Americans in Iraq, and those who blow up Americans on 9/11. Instead, though, what we hear the is the Senior say “But you’re Jewish!”

THIS SEEMS LIKE AN AWFUL, UNREALISTIC PLOT TWIST – ONE DESIGNED TO ASSUAGE THE LEFT.

IT OUGHT TO PISS OFF THE RIGHT.

YET YOU MAKE NO MENTION IF IT.

ODD.

CARE TO EXPLAIN?

MANY JEWISH BLOGGERS SAY THIS MOVIE SHOULD BE BOYCOTTED BECAUSE OF THIS UNREALISTIC AND ANTISEMITIC PLOT TWIST.

WHAT DO YOU THINK?

reliapundit on February 25, 2012 at 9:42 AM

I appreciate the courage and the work that these brave men do, but let’s stop with propaganda, please. Most of the conflicts we have fought since WWII have been police actions and have done nothing for the defense of our country. Today we are the police of the world and, in case some of you hadn’t noticed, the world hates us for it. We waste billions of dollars and thousands of American lives doing a thankless task that does nothing but make the world a more dangerous place.

It is past time to close our foreign bases, bring our troops home, and mind our own business. Not only will we save our wealth to use for our own benefit, but we will spare many of our military the death and mutilation of war.

woodNfish on February 25, 2012 at 9:06 AM

Oh yeah. The Mad Mahmouds and Hugo Chavezes of the world are just really nice guys and if America would just go home, the world would be sweetness and light.

Keep telling yourself that.

Bitter Clinger on February 25, 2012 at 9:43 AM

Hollywood is so full of cowards it amazes me this film actually got made. Bravo nonetheless.

I can’t wait to see it.

NickDeringer on February 25, 2012 at 9:58 AM

I saw this movie last night and I highly recommend it. It’s a little bit more than just terrorists coming through Mexico, but I won’t give to much away. I live now in northern California, but the theater was packed and with a lot of young people. At the end of the movie it was so quiet in the theater, you could hear a pin drop and a few people were actually choking back tears. At the credits people applauded.
The SEALS were greatin in the action, specially the first look scenes and in the speaking scenes you know they are not actors cause they sometimes look like: do I really have to say this? Everbody go see it, it’s great

utebell on February 25, 2012 at 10:03 AM

utebell on February 25, 2012 at 10:03 AM

Do you recall if the main terrorist was Jewish?

RedCrow on February 25, 2012 at 10:05 AM

WHAT DO YOU THINK?

reliapundit on February 25, 2012 at 9:42 AM

I think you should turn off your CapsLock.

Seriously, I didn’t think anything of it. The guy was mainly a Eurotrash-Russian villain with a little more complication than usual. I’m not Jewish (although my grandfather was), and so perhaps I’m just not as sensitive to it as others are, but I didn’t find anything particularly anti-Semitic or off-putting.

It might have been an unusual (and very minor) plot twist, but it’s not exactly unprecedented, either. I think the intention was to show just how complicated these networks get and the difficulty in determining who the bad guys are.

Ed Morrissey on February 25, 2012 at 10:05 AM

http://www.homeofheroes.com/wings/levitow.html

ted c on February 25, 2012 at 8:45 AM

And he is remembered every year at the McGee-Tyson airbase in Tennessee via the John Levitow Award for the best NCO leadership school graduate of the year. In our particular class in 1989, the top five students out-scored the rest of the year – I missed it by that much. :|

AH_C on February 25, 2012 at 10:06 AM

Do you recall if the main terrorist was Jewish?

RedCrow on February 25, 2012 at 10:05 AM

It wasn’t the main terrorist, it was the Eurotrash drug-smuggler facilitator.

Ed Morrissey on February 25, 2012 at 10:06 AM

reliapundit on February 25, 2012 at 9:42 AM

Missed your post. I mentioned this in a previous post on this thread, but haven’t seen the movie.

Thanks for the confirmation.

RedCrow on February 25, 2012 at 10:07 AM

Ed Morrissey on February 25, 2012 at 10:06 AM

Ah. Okay, thanks Ed.

RedCrow on February 25, 2012 at 10:07 AM

http://www.homeofheroes.com/wings/levitow.html

ted c on February 25, 2012 at 8:45 AM

Thanks ted c. I sent this to one of my brothers who happened to be stationed at Bien Hoa at that time. He seldom discusses Viet Nam.

DanMan on February 25, 2012 at 10:12 AM

but I didn’t find anything particularly anti-Semitic or off-putting.

It might have been an unusual (and very minor) plot twist, but it’s not exactly unprecedented, either.

Ed Morrissey on February 25, 2012 at 10:05 AM

Yeah. My post here
RedCrow on February 25, 2012 at 9:13 AM
was just that, if they were going to do the “safe” thing and not make the terrorist muslim, then maybe they could have left religion out of the character completely. Instead they added the detail that he’s a Jew.

Dunno. I’m not Jewish, either. I’m not terribly bothered by it, I was just asking because I spend zero dollars on Hollywood claptrap (well, besides the cable bill) and would like to continue that custom.

Thanks for the response, Ed.

RedCrow on February 25, 2012 at 10:13 AM

It wasn’t the main terrorist, it was the Eurotrash drug-smuggler facilitator.

Ed Morrissey on February 25, 2012 at 10:06 AM

Thanks for calling him Eurotrash, since I am European. But yes, the Chief asks him rather cynically: aren’t you jewish?

utebell on February 25, 2012 at 10:14 AM

Soo there was a Jewish terrorist? That ruins it for me. I still smell a false narrative from Hollywood being injected. Must be to appease palestinians,feh.

jake49 on February 25, 2012 at 10:16 AM

was just that, if they were going to do the “safe” thing and not make the terrorist muslim, then maybe they could have left religion out of the character completely. Instead they added the detail that he’s a Jew.

Just to be clear, the main villain was explicitly an Islamist terrorist, and the motivation for the attacks was Islamist terror. That point comes across explicitly in the film.

Ed Morrissey on February 25, 2012 at 10:16 AM

Oh and the main terrorist is a Chechnyan muslim

utebell on February 25, 2012 at 10:16 AM

Ed Morrissey on February 25, 2012 at 10:16 AM

Thanks, again. I was ill-informed.

RedCrow on February 25, 2012 at 10:17 AM

At the end of the movie it was so quiet in the theater, you could hear a pin drop and a few people were actually choking back tears. At the credits people applauded.

utebell on February 25, 2012 at 10:03 AM

I’ve never been to a movie where when it ended, no one moved. The packed theatre was completely silent. No one got up to leave. The words on the screen said that this film was dedicated to the SEALS who had lost their lives since 9-11. Then came the list of names. No one moved. Well, that’s when I lost it. And I wasn’t alone.

http://blog.chron.com/texassparkle/2012/02/act-of-valor-run-do-not-walk-to-see-this-movie/

We’ll be seeing this one. utebell in CA and Kathleen McKinley in TX had identical experiences. This is a great country.

DanMan on February 25, 2012 at 10:20 AM

Thanks for calling him Eurotrash, since I am European.

utebell on February 25, 2012 at 10:14 AM

You’re Eurotreasure.

Ed Morrissey on February 25, 2012 at 10:23 AM

Oh and thank you ed, I never would have known it was out.

angrymike on February 25, 2012 at 8:45 AM

Ditto! If Hollywood isn’t pushing it…it must be good.

KOOLAID2 on February 25, 2012 at 10:24 AM

Ed Morrissey on February 25, 2012 at 10:05 AM

; ) Nice job Ed, Can’t wait to see it. looks really exciting.

Bmore on February 25, 2012 at 10:32 AM

If the NYT handled its corrections with the scrupulousness that Ed does, they would fill half its pages.

Some might argue that a corrected pluralization doesn’t bear mention, but to me it demonstrates his absolute integrity as a writer, as well as the high editorial standards that HA upholds.

bobs1196 on February 25, 2012 at 10:36 AM

Going to see this today! Can’t wait!

Yakko77 on February 25, 2012 at 10:45 AM

The reason I think this film will do well is because Hollywood didn’t try to turn the US Navy Seal into some “international” force and they didn’t make the US the bad guys in the movie like they have in the last 10 years.

JeffinSac on February 25, 2012 at 10:48 AM

My wife & I loved this movie. We will be seeing it again with our youngest when she comes home from college for the weekend.

Conservative4Ever on February 25, 2012 at 10:54 AM

My first experience with the Seals occurred in the mid-late sixties while standing in line in MCRD San Diego waiting for the chow hall to open for breakfast.
It was still dark and all of a sudden three boat teams jogged up to the kitchen with their boats on their shoulders and still wet from the surf.
They sat down their boats stood up and holler Ohraa!…the kitchen lights came on, the doors opened and in went the boat crews.
Sitting across from several of them I noticed they had a 1,000 yard stare and uttered not a word.
Afterwards while standing outside in formation waiting to leave I noticed one of these guys walk out eating a apple when all of sudden a Sgt. walked up and crammed the apple down this person’s throat,yelling “What the F….are you doing! Did you not get enough to eat!”
What made that interesting was that the person getting the apple crushed into his face was of higher rank to the SGT.
Everyone in our group looked at each other and muttered “Who the F…. are these guys”!

MikeL10 on February 25, 2012 at 11:00 AM

Saw it yesterday afternoon in Colorado Springs. The crowd sat silently and reverently as the names of fallen SEALs were scrolled. Then, tears and applause. Friends of mine who attended at the next showing told me the crowd stood in unison as the names were scrolled.

This is obviously striking a cord with the common folk… but the critics at Rotten Tomatoes were giving it a failing grade of 27% and the local paper gave it a C+.

patrickmead on February 25, 2012 at 11:01 AM

Why on Earth is the villain Jewish? Weird Politically Correct nonsense.

fleiter on February 25, 2012 at 11:04 AM

I dunno; I’ll think about it. I don’t see why a chief villain in a movie about terrorism needs to be depicted as belonging to a tiny minority that actually is a primary victim of Islamist terrorism and global, peaking bigotry to boot. [Particularly when the film is supposed to be a response to the endless string of movies that refuse to depict the identity and motivation of terrorists realistically.] But Bookworm is having second thoughts based on an inside scoop; her first impression may have been triggered by missing, intended, dialogue (which they should consider inserting in future releases if that is the case). So, maybe. But I’m going in with my antennae up.

hamilcarb on February 25, 2012 at 11:05 AM

Me and some buddies at work took the afternoon off to see this. Definitely worth it. The acting wasn’t very good, but this is only really obvious during the out of combat scenes. During the action scenes these guys really seem to be in their element and things flow well.
The villains weren’t over the top. They were evil, but they believed they were doing the right thing. This helped make them human and emphasized that it was as much an ideological battle as it was a physical one.

McSmack on February 25, 2012 at 11:08 AM

We don’t have Gears Of War precisely because of the violence, way worse than other games.

ProudPalinFan on February 25, 2012 at 8:15 AM

It’s cartoon violence. But yes, the headshots are awesome.

John the Libertarian on February 25, 2012 at 11:10 AM

I’ll be flocking today.

eyesky on February 25, 2012 at 8:06 AM

Hubby and i will be flocking Monday. ♥

You’re right Ed….we need to support movies like these to try to show Hollywierd how it’s done.

tencole on February 25, 2012 at 11:12 AM

The Baddest of the Badass…The BEST of the BEST. I love our troops.

JustJP on February 25, 2012 at 11:14 AM

I watched a trailer on TV and was irritated with the trend today to shake the camera to impart the sense of realism.

Apparently someone thinks the use of true Navy SEALs in the film is not ‘Realism’ enough. Neither the viewer nor the SEALs needs any of that.

I won’t see the film for that reason but I’ll buy a ticket.

TimBuk3 on February 25, 2012 at 11:31 AM

A pro-Military/pro=American movie with real-life bad@sses as actors?

The left just soiled themselves.

Thomas More on February 25, 2012 at 11:33 AM

I got choked up after the movie. I can’t wait to get back in. I miss it.

Close to real as it gets in a war movie in many many way.

Gatekeeper on February 25, 2012 at 11:37 AM

My wife wants to see this movie. I’m not so sure, though I’ve no issues paying to support the film, especially if some of the box office is donated to some worthy cause such as the Special Operations Warrior Fund.

That being said, I hope, to a certain extent, it’s shewn how much the modern day special operations scenario is tied into the military force as a whole. Watching a SEAL team cowboy up and somehow collect, analyse, and action all intel pertaining to an incident of national security doesn’t exactly float my boat, no matter how well executed it seems to be onscreen.

And to those who say this is a recruiting commercial for the SEALs…they don’t need it. There’s a two year waiting list to go to BUDS. My understanding is that Army Recruiting no allows someone to sign up to go straight to Special Forces selection. The military’s getting smaller all the way around.

Also, their boots on ground tactics and movement are nothing new, except that SEALs are exceptionally good at them. I can’t imagine they would so casually give away a future playbook or planned operation for the sake of a film. Tactics, like anything else, is a constantly evolving process.

Sgt Steve on February 25, 2012 at 11:41 AM

Being an ex-Team Guy, and Chief Dave being friend of mine, and we did one deployment together at ST-7, I really wanted to see it the day it opened.

The movie was great. I think that the SEALs did a good job of acting in the movie, all things considered. That is actually the way Dave is, he does have 5 kids, and that was his wife in the movie, Sandy.

I don’t know what others are saying in the MSM or on other blogs, but this movie is a must see. The comraderie that you see in the movie is real, we would have bonfires on the beach all the time with family. I will say that Ed is right, Team Guys do tend to swear quite a bit.

The list of the fallen at the end was the hardest to see since most were close friends and Team mates. It hits home the sacrafice that the SEALs, and the rest of the military have given to the war effort.

Patriot Vet on February 25, 2012 at 11:42 AM

And to those who say this is a recruiting commercial for the SEALs…

Actually, that is how it started. It morphed into a feature length film, though. Not sure how that happened, but it did. I know quite a few ex-Team Guys had a problemm with it being done with active SEALs, but they also had someone from NSW who helped co-produce the movie and got credit.

Patriot Vet on February 25, 2012 at 11:46 AM

Thanks for calling him Eurotrash, since I am European. utebell on February 25, 2012 at 10:14 AM

Yeah but are you Eurotrash? Not every European is Eurotrash you know.

Akzed on February 25, 2012 at 11:52 AM

I watched a trailer on TV and was irritated with the trend today to shake the camera to impart the sense of realism.

That wasn’t a shaking camera, that was the cams on the SEALS helmets. What I call “first person view”

utebell on February 25, 2012 at 12:05 PM

Apparently someone thinks the use of true Navy SEALs in the film is not ‘Realism’ enough. Neither the viewer nor the SEALs needs any of that.
TimBuk3 on February 25, 2012 at 11:31 AM

Trained men trying to kill each other is the most inherently dramatic situation that there can ever possibly be. No Hollywood director will ever understand that.

The way most directors “improve” every story is to add lots and lots and lots of melodrama. When they give the Hollywood Treatment to an empty-headed romantic comedy about bartenders and tax accounants, it doesn’t really bother me so much. Because without a massive infusion of ham-fisted emotional manipulation there isn’t a story at all.

But when I see the same thing done to a military operation, it makes me want to puke.

It’s a nice gimmick that they have real soldiers in the movie — and I don’t for a second suspect that the acting will suffer in the tiniest bit. But is there any chance the SEALS are actually calling the shots here? No.

logis on February 25, 2012 at 12:13 PM

As I said on Twitter, if you get motion sickness you should avoid seeing this in the theater.

They use tons of shakey/hand cam, helmet cam (which is also shakey), and even considerable First Person Shooter cam at the end of the movie, along with the rapid-fire cutting that permeates action stuff today. The camera is also constantly changing focus for some reason, and often seems to be just out of focus which I imagine is a result of using hand cameras for things and the fact that the director loves extreme closeups.

The focus issues I imagine are why I actually ended up with a headache about 5 minutes in, which is a first since I’ve sat through everything from Michael Bay movies to Cloverfield and been fine.

Beyond that, I frankly did not think it was a good movie except for maybe the last 10 minutes. I wanted to like it, and still want to like it because of the Navy SEALs, but even with that the best I can muster is a 5/10.

It’s interesting that Ed brings up Tears of the Sun because that movie is excellent and far superior to Act of Valor. If you can choose to see one or the other, stick with Tears of the Sun.

CrankyTRex on February 25, 2012 at 12:13 PM

I’ll have to wait to get home to see it! Bravo Zulu to my teammates!

g2825m on February 25, 2012 at 12:16 PM

Yes lets give a great big shout Out to President Obama who allowed the US military to support the making of this film.

Oh yeah…

Mr.Mark on February 25, 2012 at 12:25 PM

Saw the movie last night. Powerful.

labrat on February 25, 2012 at 12:26 PM

thanks for the response ed!!!!!

reliapundit on February 25, 2012 at 12:37 PM

Patriot Vet on February 25, 2012 at 11:42 AM

Thank you.

davidk on February 25, 2012 at 12:49 PM

The small scale of the conflicts since WWII are a direct result of US engagement overseas.

NaCly dog on February 25, 2012 at 9:23 AM

Wrong. The reason is nukes and the lack of a defense against them.

edshepp on February 25, 2012 at 1:02 PM

Every red-blooded kid that hits the pool or longs to jump from an airplane with a gun strapped to him will want to go do this.

ted c on February 25, 2012 at 8:33 AM

Heck! Every red-blooded AMERICAN will want to go do this!

As a middle-aged female office worker with grown kids, I would give my left arm to be able to go do this!

smokeyblonde on February 25, 2012 at 1:03 PM

reliapundit on February 25, 2012 at 9:42 AM

The villain is Jewish and his name is Christo????

Seems a little odd.

But I certainly plan to see the movie.

J.E. Dyer on February 25, 2012 at 1:57 PM

Take the pre-teens. They’ve seen worse in some video games.

unclesmrgol on February 25, 2012 at 1:58 PM

Of course the Washington Post had a front-page article on the movie today. On the third paragraph, it read:

“But the surprising, if not unprecedented, use of so many active-duty military personnel, as well as the filmakers’ embedded access to training missions and material (including a nuclear submarine) have put “Act of Valor” in the crosshairs of critics who question whether the movie crosses the line between entertainment and propoganda, and whether the military should be in the movie business at all. The relationship between the Pentagon and Hollywood has raised eyebrows before, ever prompting an occaisional congressional investigation.”

Which is why I stopped getting the Post. I wonder if some of those same “critcs” have their “crosshairs” on whether the White House should be in the media business.

Over30 on February 25, 2012 at 2:20 PM

My hubby and I saw this last night at our local theater. This is a military town(we decided to settle here after retiring last January from serving 25 years in the military) At the end of the movie you could hear a woman crying in the audience. This film brings home the sacrifice to those who live with this reality daily. Go see it you wont be disappointed.

canditaylor68 on February 25, 2012 at 2:32 PM

I would really like to see a film where they shoot at George Clooney with live rounds.

kurtzz3 on February 25, 2012 at 2:35 PM

Since this is a war movie thread…

“War would lead to a prohibitive increase in taxes.”
“Say, I have an uncle who lives in Texas!”
“No, I’m talking about taxes. Dollars.”
“Yes, that’s right, he lives in Dallas!”

We’re watching Duck Soup starring the Marx Brothers.
They don’t make scripts as corny as this any more!

itsnotaboutme on February 25, 2012 at 2:38 PM

I was a bit alarmed when i learned that one of the villains is jewish but Ed eased that up for me with his comments about it..one thing nobody has mentioned is that they used real live fire in this movie..pretty unprecedented in movie making..I will be watching this movie asap

sadsushi on February 25, 2012 at 2:57 PM

Just got back from seeing this. Gonna try to see it again sometime this weekend.

Yakko77 on February 25, 2012 at 3:01 PM

These seals are the cream of the crop. Only 2% of seal wannabes make it through the exhaustive training. After that, if they are not deployed to a hot zone, they train, and train, and train, learning new skills or honing old ones.

They are killing machines and they are caring husbands and fathers. I have had the pleasure of socializing with these fine men, and I am always awestruck by their dedication to their craft and their love of country.

fogw on February 25, 2012 at 3:06 PM

The small scale of the conflicts since WWII are a direct result of US engagement overseas.
NaCly dog on February 25, 2012 at 9:23 AM

Wrong. The reason is nukes and the lack of a defense against them.
edshepp on February 25, 2012 at 1:02 PM

These are not mutually exclusive propositions.
Still, “a stitch in time save nine”.
A nice, short “police action” against Hitler would have been useful.

AesopFan on February 25, 2012 at 3:25 PM

woodNfish on February 25, 2012 at 9:06 AM

Many people here at home hate the police for doing their jobs, and doing it well. Should they pack up and stop?

I understand the isolationist impulse, but that isn’t the real world. There are friends and enemies out there, and attempting to ignore them will not help us. I happily admit that there are actions and positions we have taken that demand review and adjusted response. However, if we began to pull back from every position of force and support of ally that are currently in place, it would be a gift for our enemies, and a dagger in the back of our friends.

Pretending the world will all right itself if only the meddling Americans stopped is the worst sort of blind worldview (and the very largest reason why Ron Paul cannot be permitted the Presidency). Recognition and analysis of reality must trump wishful thinking in the realm of statesmanship, foreign policy and diplomacy. Take note of the vast improvement in American-Russion relations brought about by Hillary’s “reset button”. They are opposing us more and more strongly each day on issues which affect us economically and politically. It doesn’t work.

Yes, it is not the most desired situation for our military to have become “the world’s police force”. But that’s the way things have come to be, and nobody else on Earth is more capable, or more noble in their intentions, than we. You can choose to believe that or not, but no military force in the history of the world has so surgically invaded a sovereign nation with the purpose of removing a despotic tyrant and returning control of that nation to its own people. We did that. We did it very well, in spite of how the news portrays us. Don’t believe their lies, believe the millions of Iraqi citizens who were glad we came, and who are sad we’ve left.

Freelancer on February 25, 2012 at 3:29 PM

Ed, is there character development in there? Chase scenes only go so far.

AshleyTKing on February 25, 2012 at 3:37 PM

I saw Act of Valor late last night after work. I debated going but am very glad I did, for all the reasons mentioned in the above review. It was an excellent movie. If you haven’t seen it, go!

God bless the men and women of the United States military.

TeeDee on February 25, 2012 at 3:38 PM

Just back from thoroughly enjoying this movie – while the line delivery may have been awful, and that’s not a criticism – these guys are totally awesome!

Glad I read Lone Survivor last week by Marcus Lutrell which gave me an enormous respect and admiration for the training these ‘best of the best’ endure – that, plus their incredible bravery.

Wow!!

karra on February 25, 2012 at 3:51 PM

I appreciate the courage and the work that these brave men do, but…..
woodNfish on February 25, 2012 at 9:06 AM

The time tested axiom :”Everything before ‘but’ is BS”

Dr. Carlo Lombardi on February 25, 2012 at 3:53 PM

God Bless our SEALS! I love our troops.

JustJP on February 25, 2012 at 4:07 PM

We need to flock to the theaters to support those that do get made, and to show our appreciation for the men who made this one.

I’ll be flocking today.

eyesky on February 25, 2012 at 8:06 AM

Just got back from flocking to a matinee that was well attended. All I can say is “Wow!” This film didn’t need Hollyweird actors to make it better. It couldn’t have been any better. Just wow!

College Prof on February 25, 2012 at 4:22 PM

Had to check it out first before letting the boys see it. Great film. Some language but typical for what you’d hear in any unit. As for acting, very well done. If your criteria for a good movie is professional actors, then you’re a snob. I see this on the level of blackhawk down and tears of the sun.

AH_C on February 25, 2012 at 4:24 PM

I will never forget the very first time I ever saw some of the members of what later became the SEAL Teams. It was 1961 and I was stationed at USNAS Roosevelt Roads at the eastern end of Puerto Rico and the scene was something like what MikeL10 described above. It was 6:30AM in front of the chow hall and this squad-sized group of grunts in shorts and t-shirts and field packs came running up the road from the harbor area, formed up at rigid attention in the parking lot and stood while some DI verbally worked them over. This guy had them doing pushups for being such losers because they were breathing too hard after an 8 mile run and most of us were winded just going up to the second deck in the barracks. And after he let them get some chow, he ran them at full tilt back to the harbor and back over to Veages Island where they slept.
Back then they were called UDT, and the first and last thing you knew about these guys was that they were like nobody else you would ever meet. There was an almost stunning sense of dead serious reality about these guys that never left you when you met them, and to this day that feeling is still there.
There is no one on this Earth like a US Navy SEAL, except a US Navy SEAL…..and thank God for them.

Lew on February 25, 2012 at 4:25 PM

Comment pages: 1 2