How do you rip on Act of Valor when its subject matter is all about real-life American heroes? Like this…
First question, what’s the purpose of this 101 minute flick? Was it to enhance the recruitment process? Was it to show the daily life of Navy SEALs? Or better yet: hey everyone who hates our country; here are some of our tactical procedures!
It was probably a little bit of everything (except for the last point), but the only thing it did accomplish in this cinematic story…gimmick failure.
Not sure if audiences will receive the opening two or three minutes where the director and producer explain how this movie came about and why they chose to use real-life SEALs, but let’s just say it turns out to be a pointless film for the average guy. Granted, just about all of the action sequences were handled decently behind the lens and the acting wasn’t the worst thing one will ever lay eyes upon (as long as the Chiller and Syfy channels still exist). But again, after seeing so many military action flicks that try to emulate what actually happens on these extremely dangerous missions, this particular one isn’t any different from those despite having the actual brave souls that undertake these endeavors.
The biggest problem with this product, it tries too hard to be a fictional movie when it would have been better served to err on the side of looking like a documentary. And it is extremely unfair to the real-life SEALs in asking them to act – the one area they have no training in – in a story that is so generic and uninspiring. The only time a real-life group played themselves in a movie and pulled it off was in Howard Stern’s Private Parts. And that’s a rarity, but that’s also why we never see people play themselves in these adaptations.
Essentially, all this amounts to is a promotional commercial that sees expert SEALs blow the brains out of some poorly trained 3rd world militia all over the globe. Or as we call it today, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (videogame).
If the filmmakers wanted to make a fictional movie, they forgot a very important element: conjuring up emotion via the characters. Character development is not a weapon of choice here, for the filmmakers presumably thought that by saying we have real-life SEALs in the lead roles, the audience will automatically be caring. Wrong. Again, if this was a straight up documentary or even an exhibition of some sort, then it would have easily resonated more. Since it is just a poor man’s action flick with a couple of cool stunts; they could have just hired Sylvester Stallone, Sam Worthington, and Channing Tatum to represent our troops. Though, the acting would only slightly improve in all likelihood.
What this needed to do is convince the viewer that what they’re seeing depicted on-screen is suspenseful. Of course the majority of people who serve our country will get this, but that’s because they have background info. The rest of us don’t really have anything to go on, so it isn’t all that compelling, hence the relation to a generic action flick.
Basically, this ends up doing nada for the Navy SEALs. And from film industry perspective – which is mainly where all my thoughts are coming from – this isn’t anything special. That may sound crass to say, yet the storytelling fails to transcend the theme and/or goal the filmmakers had (which are also still a mystery aside from the gimmick-like marketing game plan). Great; you have real-life SEALs in a fictional movie that depicts a few actual mission scenarios. If this was a 30-40 minute feature, this would have worked just fine. They had the ingredients folks, but lacked the execution. And as any military person will tell you, preparation is key yet it doesn’t mean crap if you can’t execute.
Overall, Act of Valor turns out to be just another soulless action movie with nothing new to offer. It doesn’t even pose as a good demonstration video since the authentic actions are hampered by Hollywood filmmaking tactics. This pairing never comes together based on the direction the filmmakers took it.
P.S. I respect all Navy SEALs out there so please don’t snipe me based on this review people. Much obliged!
RATING: 2 out of 5