Act of Valor touts itself as being the definitive portrayal of the action that experience by the USNavy in real combat situations. So, does it nail the kill shot or does it fall helplessly into a booby trap?
The story follows a team of navy Seals as they are deployed on multiple operations: to rescue a captured CIA agent and put an end to a large-scale international terrorist plot. The image of this film, especially after its release in the cinema, was that it was sensationalised, overly patriotic, military porn. However, Act of Valor actually proves itself to be one of the better “real” military action films of the last couple of years.
The narrative is extremely easy to follow, featuring some uncomplicated, one dimensional villains, who make the Navy appear even more righteous. This is accentuated from the beginning of the film, when the main antagonist blows up a school with a bomb-filled ice cream truck. Though, despite this rather video game-like plot, what really sets Act of Valor apart are its superb action sequences, which take place on almost every continent of the globe. Whether it’s hostage extractions in the Costa Rican jungle or raids on luxury yachts in the Philippines, Act of Valor depicts all with meticulous detail, and a sense of realism often lost in other military shooters. The use of live ammunition in combat sequences further helps to put the audience into the action, with real tracer bullets and impact marks littering the screen. If this film did not already feel like Call of Duty: The Motion Picture,the sequences filmed from the first person certainly act to make it appear so.
Overall, the cinematography of Act of Valor is what takes it from an average to a good film. Itsplot does not hinge on the acting ability of its cast, thankfully, as some of the script and acting gets pretty ropy at times. Even so,when the film reaches some of its more emotional scenes the real Seals perform unexpectedly well.
In terms of special features on the disc, there’s a surprisingly informative directors’ commentary (Mike McCoy and Scott Waugh), which does a lot to emphasise the true extent of the logistical nightmare the crew went through with some of the set pieces. The interviews with the real Navy Seal cast members are also interesting, and eye opening to some of the issues faced by the modern day soldier. The interviews also demonstrate the lasting effect that 9/11 attacks had on America as a whole, and principally its military. Other special features include a poor “making of” that fails to inform the viewer as to how how the movie was actually made.
Nonetheless, Act of Valor proves itself to be an enjoyable military fire fight with some fantastic action sequences, comparable to those of Black Hawk Down. Granted it is far from a film that will appeal to everyone’s tastes, but as a piece of entertainment Act of Valor passes top of its class.
Act of Valor is released on the 16 July 2012 on DVD and Blu-ray.
Watch the trailer: