I would like to first say that I have utmost respect for those serving in the military. Whether it’s Army, Navy, Marines, or the Air Force, I know these men and women are a lot braver than I will ever be. They have seen worse things than I will ever see and have been in situations far worse than ones I’ve ever experienced in my 27 years of living. In fact, I even have friends and family who have served or are currently serving. All that being said, Act of Valor is a film that would have worked far better as a documentary.
Using real-life, active duty Navy SEALs, Act of Valor strives for authenticity and being the ultimate tribute to those who serve. However, seeing as the story is fictional and every single war movie cliche is present here, the authenticity kind of wanes.
The Navy SEALs, whose names are not listed in the credits, may offer up ultra realistic portrayals but when it comes to being actors in a feature film, none of them are very convincing. Their characters aren’t well developed and the situations which they get themselves into aren’t as intense as they should be. Plus, there’s only one character that has somewhat of a back-story, and it’s the cliched pregnant wife tale.
Despite the majority of the cast being made up of SEALs, there are a few actors who may be recognizable, most notably Roselyn Sanchez from TV’s Without a Trace. Her character is a CIA operative named Morales and it’s her that the story really centers around.
While working undercover to gather information about a major drug trafficker named Christo (Alex Veadov), Morales gets abducted. It turns out that Christo is involved with a group that is planning a major terrorist attack against the United States. Cue the SEALs who come in to try and save the day. That’s really about as deep as the plot gets.
Written by Kurt Johnstad and directed by Mike McCoy and Scott Waugh, Act of Valor feels like a 100-minute recruitment video for the Navy SEALs. The action scenes, though somewhat realistic, are endless and whether the SEALs are jumping out of planes, exploring the jungles, or engaging in a firefight, the battles just keep coming and the rock anthem soundtrack just keeps on blasting.
Trying to make the film as realistic as possible, McCoy and Waugh put the cameras as close as they can to the soldiers, at times even resorting to first person POV. While I understand that they want to put the audience right in the combat, it gives the film a first-person shooter perspective as seen in many video games. Those who are familiar with the Call of Duty or Medal of Honor franchises may get the same feeling when watching the film. Heck, I wouldn’t be surprised if a game franchise based off this film gets created soon.
Overall, I do applaud the men for giving it their all and I do understand them wanting a film that can accurately portray those who serve. But still, Act of Valor is poor filmmaking and ironically, it does more bad than good for our brave and fearless SEALs.