Part of me feels bad for bashing ‘Act of Valor’, because doing so might paint me as unpatriotic. Nonetheless, I have to fulfill my moral and critical obligations by telling you just how bad it is and why you shouldn’t even consider seeing it this weekend.
‘Act of Valor’ opens with a short making-of featurette that informs you about what sets it apart from other modern warfare movies. Instead of casting actors to play roles as Navy SEALs, real-life active duty SEALs were used. As you see them saying goodbye to their families prior to deployment, that footage is real. What the filmmakers go for is a sense of realism, to truly depict what Navy SEAL teams go through. It seems like this featurette was meant to make you aware of how accurate the military tactics are, but all it did for me was warn me that I was about to see bad acting.
The movie itself plays out like a live-action adaptation of a ‘Call of Duty’ videogame. Yes, it even uses some first-person point-of-view shots. The story is weak, much like that of a videogame. The characters are generic and clichéd, also like that of a videogame. Only making it worse are these SEALs doubling as actors. Sure, the action scenes that demonstrate the technical aspect of their abilities are spot-on, but I dare say that it’s nothing that a solid actor couldn’t do (or fake doing) with training.
Even though the SEALs in the movie are tragically bad, they aren’t the only thing that ruins ‘Act of Valor’. The script, style and story are equally as bad. The story and characters carry no weight. If you want to watch a modern warfare movie that does, pick up the ‘Black Hawk Down‘ Blu-ray. Not only do you get actors who can successfully pull off the military angle, you get a surprisingly accurate true story at the same time. ‘Act of Valor’ doesn’t do a thing that ‘Black Hawk Down’ didn’t do better more than a decade ago.
[Ed.: There can be only one proper reaction to this movie. See below. -JZ]