The relationship that has been built over the decades between Hollywood and warfare is something that is either brilliantly wonderful or absolutely terrible. The successful pieces are the ones that depict as much reality as possible, leaving out the majority of the industries clichéd usage of exaggerated tales and abilities to fill the content. Since Saving Private Ryan premiered in 1998, films based around warfare have never been better. Kathryn Bigelow even took the industry to a new level with her superb creation of The Hurt Locker in 2008. Continuing these positive advancements comes Act of Valor.
Straying from the ordinary, this film stars active-duty Navy SEALs in a heroic story of contemporary global anti-terrorism. When the rescue of a kidnapped CIA operative brings insight into a deadly terrorist plot against the U.S., a team of Navy SEALs is dispatched on an international manhunt. As these soldiers race to stop the deadly plans that could kill thousands of Americans, they must also internally struggle with having a family, living a life, staying true to their country, all while doing their best to successfully complete their mission. Inspired by true events, Act of Valor brings audiences a brilliant juxtaposition of reality and warfare. The entire piece is centered around the realms of reality bringing the audience into the world of the elite combat forces. There are amazing scenes depicting the intensity these brave men must go through in a way never seen before on the big screen. Diving deep into the atmosphere of these secretive elite few, audiences are shown some of the most up to date equipment and strategies of battle used in the American combat forces.
When I heard about this film, I honestly did not think too much of it. I ignorantly assumed it would be a film of overwhelming fantasy — explosions, bad aim, useless villains, and unstoppable United States forces. Soon after the movie ended I realized how wrong I was. The film was better than I anticipated by a large amount. Yes, there were still some exaggerated attributes to the film dictating the story line, yet they were overall fairly subtle and not over dramatic.
The realistic nature arresting Act of Valor is what made the piece. The brilliance lied in the capturing of the actual details while recreating the intense situations these soldiers go through. It opened my mind to how bad-ass these guys really are. In one scene soldiers sneak up to retrieve a young woman held hostage. The soldiers lower themselves into the water and stealthily creep to an enemy who is standing on the dock yielding an automatic weapon. From a distance an American sniper scopes out the situation waiting for the right opportunity to kill his target. The scene cuts to the soldier in the water who begins to emerge; his hands slowly come out of the water and nothing else. Right when the viewer is anticipating what will happen the sniper shoots his target perfectly allowing for the villain to fall directly onto the soldiers meticulous hands in the water resulting in pure silence to conceal their kill. I thought that was one of the best scenes of the film. Rather than going out blazing every enemy in sight and handsomely rescuing the damsel in distress, the director portrayed the reality of this nature. The actors themselves were not the best when it came to the dialogue, yet when it came time for the action scenes these guys absolutely killed it; everything felt so real which allowed me to connect more to the film.
Upon viewing the film I was curious about the style of cinematography that would be used throughout. To my surprise I found it to be quite enjoyable and fairly unique. Since the ‘Go Pro’ camera’s introduction to the world of commercials, the film industry has also decided to take advantage of this awesome camera. In one scene the ‘Go Pro’, or a similar version was placed on the soldier giving the audience the point of view of the character. This usage of a camera to reveal a unique perspective has shown up more often in recent films. The astronomically successful film, The Avengers used a similar camera in a scene giving the insight of the viewer being inside a car during a battle sequence. These cameras give the viewers a different perspective, allowing them to get inside the action rather than just viewing it. Overall the film’s cinematography was well done.
Negative reviews for this film have mainly been directed to the acting. Act of Valor is not a film to feature acting stars or even actors who will win an Oscar. The point of this film is to unleash the reality that goes on in one of the most intense careers an individual can pursue. Portraying the reality of war was more important than finding actors that would present an award winning performance. I honestly thought the acting was brilliant in the sense that it felt genuine and real. The real world is full of imperfect people who are not trying to put on a superb performance for an audience and this is exactly what the film needed. Of course there are still influences from Hollywood such as a little more drama and fiction to the villains, but what big screen film does not have some impact from Hollywood? These guys did a good job and definitely contributed to the unique nature of this film.
Overall Score: 4/5
I thoroughly thought this film was underrated in the regards that it felt so genuine and realistic compared to the majority of war movies. The usage of these unpaid actors was brilliant; it aided highly to film’s overall tone and realism. From the story line to the cinematography, Act of Valor is a wonderful film for anyone who loves a great war film. If you are tired of the exaggerated action and unrealistic characters making up terrible films then stop watching them and check out Act of Valor because it will not disappoint.
‘ Act of Valor’ Movie Trailer