Films have been no strangers to war. Lots of gifted movie-makers have been portraying the real-life horror of war in films like Saving Private Ryan and Full Metal Jacket. So, when directors Scott Waugh and Mike McCoy decided to make Act of Valor a film starring active, real-life US Navy SEALs, the buzz began to build. The resulting film is exactly what is to be expected, a war story, full of cliched dialogue, decent action and mostly empty heroism. Respect for the men that protect the country is already a given, but do we need to be reminded of their actions and be told that just because a movie shows them means it’s good?
The film follows real-life SEALs as they embark on various missions to protect the country and the world. They bring down terrorists and stop bombs from going off and killing hundreds of people. Act of Valor gives us a look at some of their military strategies and in doing so it becomes Call of Duty the video game. This isn’t a horrible concept if you’re simply looking for big guns, lots of action and frantic camera work, but anyone looking for a comprehensible story, made by people that actually know the basics of filmmaking will be severely disappointed.
Act of Valor is a piss-poor film that the SEALs should even disregard. The original plan for the pairing of Waugh/McCoy and the SEALs was for a commercial, which this basically is, a glorified SEALs commercial that sacrifices characters and story for cheap shots of the American flag or soldiers protecting the innocent. We get that being a SEAL is a proud and noble thing, but keep in mind that they all signed up for it.
Respect is more than deserving for the group of soldiers, but when we’re watching a movie we want to be entertained by an emotional story or well-delivered dialogue, not wooden lines that read like a soap opera or paper thin bad guys that are bad simply because they have a foreign accent.
Mike McCoy and Scott Waugh never go out of the way to explore things deeper than SEALs = good guys and anyone with a beard, evil laugh or accent = bad guys. It’s that kind of ignorant mentality that is shaping this country and it scares me to know that people are reacting positively to the film.
The disoriented camerawork isn’t anything new and the violence and action isn’t all that groundbreaking, yet I’ve had people come up to me and say that Act of Valor is the best film of the year.
Some people go into films for the action and excitement and some people go into films for well-made action and properly structured excitement. The two sound the same, but they’re very different and Act of Valor is the best example of that first one.
It’s a quick action fix that copies other films and doesn’t give two shits about actually being a good movie. If you want to blindly praise the SEALs and pay $10.50 for a ticket to do so then by all means waste your money on it, but if it’s a real war film you want then you’ll want to avoid this one and stay home. At least Call of Duty lets you control the action. Act of Valor forces its emotions on you and casts you out as a non-American if you don’t praise and love the film for its air-headed ideals.
Fox brings the film to Blu-Ray with a first-class 1080p video transfer. The film was shot on digital cameras that can be purchased for cheap, yet it looks just as good as some expensive Hollywood blockbusters. There are occasional depth issues, but most of the time the film looks remarkably clean, with the wide color variety taking advantage of all the pixels.
The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track is simply one of the best tracks I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing this year. It’s mixed to perfection and balanced with the proper amount of chaos and carnage. It puts you right in the middle of the gunfire and mayhem as the SEALs shoot, blowup and destroy the war on terror.
Act of Valor comes with the following special features:
- Director’s Commentary
- Deleted Scenes (HD)
- Directors’ Intro (HD)
- Interviews with Active Duty Navy SEALs (HD)
- The Making of Act of Valor (HD)
- Real Bullets (HD)
- Real Seals (HD)
- Silent Warriors (HD)
- “For You” Music Video by Keith Urban (HD)
- Making of the Music Video (HD)
- DVD Copy
- Digital Copy
Watching the special features on the disc only amplifies my upset feelings towards the film. Waugh and McCoy are obviously big supporters of the SEALs and yet they still throw all filmmaking responsibilities out the window when telling their story. They could have really benefited from being so actively involved with the SEALs when it came to authentically making a war film from the perspective of the SEALs, but instead they take the easy route and let their appreciation transfer into a lazy film, with weak structuring and no real driving plot, other than respecting the SEALs for the sake of it.
The Blu-Ray does come with a hearty amount of extras and a DVD and digital copy, which at least makes the combo pack a solid investment for fans. The video transfer is of high quality and the audio track is simply one of the best.
I despised the movie and I really didn’t appreciate having to sit through a 2 hour SEALs commercial, but some might find it to be a first-class ticket to what the SEALs deal with on a day-to-day basis, without all of those annoying things like actual characters or a story with beginning, middle and end. If you simply want to watch SEALs blow things up in the American way then you’ll probably find this film to be an enjoyable and patriotic experience, but if you’re actually looking for a film that has a purpose beyond advertising I strongly suggest you put some distance between yourself and this disc.
Act of Valor isn't a movie; it's a 2 hour commercial for the SEALs. It's full of action, but you'll have to search elsewhere for an actual story with well written characters.