If it's crap ... We'll tell you
*1/2 out of ****
Spill Rating: HIGH RENTAL!
-One Amazing Action Sequence
-It's Propaganda Disguised As An Action FIlm
-"WHO AM I LOOKING AT?"
-Plot Holes The Size of Texas
-What The Hell Does "Based On Real Acts of Valor" Mean?
An action film promising to show the bravery, companionship, and sacrifice of U.S Navy Seals starring active duty soldiers is a bold and brave move. Obtaining a glimpse into the life of those brave men should be eye-opening, shocking, and most of all, exciting. What I got was a poorly written and acted film that serves only as an unintentional adaptation of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and a military recruitment film. In an attempt to make a realistic portrayal of U.S Navy Seals, the filmmakers are forced to create a cinematic plot that undermines the very premise of the film.
After a suicide bombing at the International School in Jakarta, Dave, Rorke, and the rest of their team must deploy to the likes of Costa Rica, the Sudan, and Mexico to follow a border-hopping jihadist conspiracy network led by a Ukrainian-born convert to Islam, Abul Shabal (Jason Cottle), arranging to purchase the latest in suicide-bomb technology from his childhood friend, a Russian arms dealer (Alex Veadov).
The problem with Act of Valor is the very thing it sets out to do. If I want to see a real-life depiction of Navy Seals, I'll go watch a special on the Discovery or History channels. By trying to force a cinematic plot into a supposed real life portrayal of soldiers, it makes everything seem awkward and forced. If I went into this film completely blind, I would have written this off as a crappy direct-to-video action film with bad acting.
The only time the film fulfills its promise is during the earliest action set-piece in which the team must rescue a kidnapped CIA agent deep within an enemy-infested jungle. Here, we truly see the teamwork required in the situation, where every second can mean the difference between life or death. The tactics used are interesting, the weapons and technology even more so, and the action intense. Its filmed extremely well and even managed to provoke an emotional response in me.
Once that sequence passes, its all downhill. We don't get to know anyone in the squad besides Dave and Rourke, and even worse, they are indistinguishable during action scenes. What's the point of making a film built around the concept of teamwork when the team is separated for most of the film? The Expendables did a better job of showing the compradore between a team than this did. (Ouch, right?) Making this even worse is the sub-par acting by the Seals, who come off as completely awkward during any emotional scenes. It doesn't help that the dialogue ranges from repetitive military talk to bizarre pop-culture references.
As well, the villains in the film are pure caricatures whose only motivations are "screw America!" I'm not asking for deep characterization but when even their motivations make no sense, you've got a serious problem. Why in the hell would a Russain smuggler help a person he hasn't seen in decades execute mass jihad in America? Why would the Mexican drug cartel help smuggle terrorists into America? If there's no America, who are they going to sell their drugs to?
With this film being promoted as an accurate depiction of real-life, I have to examine this with a closer eye than usual. When I review a film, I base my opinions off of two different perspectives. One being my personal opinion of the film, taking into account my overall enjoyment of it with technical aspects supplementing it. Second, I try to answer whether the film succeeded in its objective. For example, I would obviously rate a horror film lower for not being scary or an action film for being boring.
For this film, I somewhat enjoyed it in a mindless manner. Its the type of film I would pop in if my friends wanted to see a badass action scene but in terms of being a serious look into the life of Navy Seals, it fails miserably. We don't get to know any of the characters, the plot and situations are illogical, and worst of all, it left me with a bad taste in my mouth. Regardless of my feelings about the military in general, U.S Navy Seals are brave soldiers who risk their life every day to preserve the freedom we love so much. Despite the good intentions behind the film, they deserve much better than this mediocre action film.