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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

All my aimless thoughts, ideas, and ramblings, all packed into one site!

Act of Valor (2012)


Keep on fighting the good fight, boys. But let’s leave that on the battlefield, and off of our silver screens.

This one’s going to be a little difficult to summarize, so just bear with me for as long as you can. A group of Navy SEALS are sent on a mission where they must rescue an undercover CIA agent who has been held captive. Once these SEALS finally rescue her, all safe, sealed and delivered, they realize that this little kidnapping scheme is part of something far more bigger than just your traditional threat to the United States army. Somehow, through someway, the Mexican drug cartel and terrorists come together on this plan to invade the U.S., with more than a few suicide bombers ready to press the button at any point in time. However, it’s up to this same group of SEALS to do whatever it is that they can to defeat the enemy, save our country and still a life to live where they can go back to their families, have dinner, make love to their spouses and in some cases, finally get to see their newborn baby. All in a hard day’s work of a Navy SEAL Marine. Hoo-rah!

I’m going to let you know right now, just as we start things off: If you go into this movie expecting something of an honest, realistic, slice-of-life look inside the lives of Navy SEALS, then you’re not going to get here. Everything you see or hear in this movie, is straight-up, pure propaganda that’s obviously been tinkered with many of times, just so soldier-hopefuls out there will get packed, grab their bags and get the hell out of the house, where they can go to their nearest recruiter and sign right up. If you take it in as anything else other than a propaganda-piece, then you, my friend, are indeed screwed, because trust me, that’s all you’re going to get.

Off into the sunset, and hopefully away from a movie career.

Off into the sunset, and hopefully away from a movie career.

But that brings up the interesting question: If this is a propaganda movie made for those who want to contribute the war, and/or support our troops, is it wrong to NOT like this movie? I remember this discussion was going through the minds of many peeps when this movie first came out early last year, and while I didn’t even bother to check it out for myself, I still realized that maybe some day down the pipeline I’ll give this try. Fast-forward to Veterans Day 2013, and gosh, was my timing every so impeccable!

If you’re going to watch any movie today to get in you the fine spirit of paying your condolences to those who fought for us, then this is definitely the movie to see, if you haven’t already seen it. While there have been far more preachy and obvious movies made for the sake of propaganda, this one definitely takes the cake as it literally seems like there are no problems with any of the SEALS involved whatsoever. Every soldier that we get the slightest glimpse at is either on-point with every decision they make, smart, nice, easily pleased and always able to figure something right on the spot. They rarely ever get frazzled, pissed off, upset, jealous, selfish, scared, worried or even a little bit gung-ho with their weapons. Nope, they’re just the most perfect human-beings in the history of the world and some out there may call me a dick for making fun of that fact, but I’m just making an obvious note: People, this is no Restrepo. Trust me on that.

And since this is no Restrepo, that means we are subject to some pretty weak character-development and acting, which could have all been easily solved had directors Mike McCoy and Scott Waugh not decided to be so gimmicky and cast former active duty Navy SEALS. See, I get that these guys obviously wanted to show some real, hard-earned respect to these boys, so they thought by casting them in these lead roles, giving them a handful of lines, fake guns packed with stud bullets and some, to little back-story, that they’d be doing them a real slim; which is exactly what they’re doing. Nothing really wrong with that as it probably made them feel even more special than ever before, however, what may make those guys feel all mighty, high and proud of themselves, may make some of us who are stuck watching these guys be forced to commit such actions as emoting, or getting down their comedic-timing, or even just reading their lines, feel awkward and terribly uncomfortable.

This is another point that may earn more haters than lovers, and if that’s the case, then so be it. I’m a movie critic, not a fellow solider writing about my thoughts and feelings about these soldiers in the roles, and the movies they’re in. I’m simply just talking about the movie as a whole, and in that regard, the movie is god awful. It’s hard to listen to half of these guys say something, without laughing uncontrollably out-loud and wonder why McCoy and Waugh couldn’t just get real actors to do these roles, and just have the SEALS stunt-double for them, in order to still give us the real look and feel as if we are really seeing these soldiers go to work and talk like they normally would. But instead, we just get a bunch of guys who can’t act for crap, but can sure as hell throw out war jargon like nobody’s business. That’s what I’ll definitely give them credit for, but then again, something tells me a person like say, I don’t know, Brad Pitt or George Clooney would have been able to do that ten times more effectively.

Think long and hard, bud.

Think long and hard, bud.

Once again, movie critic, not a soldier.

Since I do keep reminding you that I am a movie critic, I think this is finally my time to stop bagging on this movie and get to the good stuff, which isn’t much, but still something that’s worth recommending for the hardest, of hardest action-junkies. Basically, minor bits and pieces of character-development and scenes of dialogue probably take up about 10% of this whole movie; whereas the rest of the 90% is straight-up, non-stop, action. And by “action”, I mean the full shebang: Guns, nukes, explosions, bullets, snipers, bombs, explosions, dudes getting shot in the head, POV shots, explosions, knives, blood, tanks, jeeps, explosions, and plenty more where that came from. For people who get their rocks off of seeing a terrorist get their head shot off by some camouflaged sniper, then this is definitely the movie for you as there’s plenty more where that came from, and hell, who am I to judge, because I don’t mind seeing that every once in awhile either. I didn’t really care for it much here since I felt like I got that same scene about hundred more times, but still, there is some fun to be had with this movie and its various amounts of violence, especially if you’re on our side. If you’re not, then you won’t like this movie, and in essence, you’re a traitor. That’s what I’ll most likely be told.

Consensus: The movie’s intentions are good, and the heart is in the right place, but Act of Valor still can’t help but feel like nothing more than pure propaganda for army-hopefuls to check out and suddenly be inspired to take action right away, whether that be through joining up, or simply donating. Either way, this movie wants your commitment, and it may or may not get it, all depending on the type of person you are.

5 / 10 = Rental!!

On a lighter, less cynical note, remember those who fought and died for us.  I know I will. I just won't be watching this movie while doing so.

On a more serious, less cynical note, remember those who fought and died for us. I know I will. I just won’t be watching this movie while doing so.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

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22 responses to “Act of Valor (2012)

  1. angie chui November 11, 2013 at 6:05 am

    I caught this one last year and while I do salute the intentions behind this movie, they should have gotten real actors to play the parts if they were going the feature film route. If they wanted to make the soldiers for marketing, they should have done a documentary instead.

  2. Wendell November 11, 2013 at 12:00 pm

    I agree this movie was not good, and yes it is a NAVY recruiting tool, but the decision to use real SEALs was not because they couldn’t get real actors. The way the story goes, the guys that wind up in the movie were just advisors on the film until the directors decided to reverse field because they felt no actors, let alone the ones they had, could accurately portray the physicality of the roles. To that end, I’ll give the movie credit since this leads to some solid action scenes showing (close to) real SEAL tactics. Too bad these guys are just brutal in their acting and the story is muddled.

    • CMrok93 November 12, 2013 at 4:09 pm

      I’ll give them credit for that. But everything else, I just can’t. The acting is way too wooden to really get past the fact that they really were active-duty soldiers at one point in time.

  3. lukebbtt November 11, 2013 at 12:21 pm

    Brave review, Dan. I never sat down to watch this, because I figured something like this would be the final result and you confirmed those fears. Yes, it might all be supporting our troops and there is nothing wrong with that, but that doesn’t mean you ‘have’ to like it, to be a patriot or whatever. Good man for not holding back on those thoughts.

  4. keith7198 November 11, 2013 at 12:54 pm

    I remember leaving this one totally mixed on my feelings. I respected it for what it really was. It also has some fantastic action. But it also has some tremendous flaws. At the top of the list is the horrible acting. Of course they are not professional actors but at some point you have to keep from being utterly distracting.

  5. jjames36 November 11, 2013 at 1:22 pm

    Agreed. As a feature film, Act of Valor ain’t good.

    I don’t know that it was meant to be a recruitment tool for the military, but if it was … Well. They should have made a better movie.

  6. Three Rows Back November 11, 2013 at 2:03 pm

    It’s not that good? That’s a surprise to me :) Nicely done.

  7. drakulus23 November 11, 2013 at 4:15 pm

    I remember watching this. I don’t remember if I liked it or not though :[.

  8. chris2508 November 11, 2013 at 4:48 pm

    Great review. Aye this movie looked terrible, glad my instincts were correct on this one.

  9. Austin Harrison November 12, 2013 at 6:34 am

    I remember this, and while not the best acted or scripted- I think it pays tribute to what The Seals really do each day. That is- put their life on the line and die for their family and country. I’ll tip my hat to that message in the film, and the sacrifices made by the many who have lost their lives.

    But as a movie- the messages are certainly there, but they could have been more professionally portrayed.

    • CMrok93 November 12, 2013 at 4:16 pm

      The movie itself does not do well. But the message is there, and at least that should be noted and understood. I hope I got that sentiment out there well-enough.

  10. The Hot Rod November 13, 2013 at 12:31 am

    I think the fact the film starred ACTUAL, real life solder dudes doing what they do best is what gives this film any entertainment value at all. If it weren’t for them being as accurate with their missions and stuff, the film would have been a lot, lot worse. And yes, it smacks waaaay too hard of propaganda for the American military complex, of which most people outside the US are not fans.

  11. Pingback: » Movie Review – Act Of Valor Fernby Films

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