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Act of Valor (2012)

Updated on July 2, 2013

Act of Valor

Directors: Mike McCoy, Scott Waugh

Writer: Kurt Johnstad

Cast: Alex Veadov, Roselyn Sanchez, Nestor Serrano, Alexander Asefa, Jeffrey Barnachea, Kenny Calderon, Raul Canizales II, Drea Castro, Sam Cespedes, Jimmy Chhiu, Charles Chiyangwa, Antoni Corone, Jason Cottle, Jesse Cotton, Craig H. Davidson, Juan Diaz, Aurelius DiBarsanti, Pedro Sergio Escobedo, Jesús Fernández, Colin Fleming, Richie Gaona, Conrad Garcia, Nick Gomez, Dyonte Griffin, Carla Jimenez, Marissa Labog, Reginald Long, Christian Mante, Henry Pinpin, Ernie Reyes Jr., Nicko Sabado, Sarifa Salanga, Roselyn Sanchez, Sonny Sison, Philip Un, Keo Woolford

Synopsis: An unprecedented blend of real-life heroism and original filmmaking, Act of Valor stars a group of active-duty Navy SEALs in a powerful story of contemporary global anti-terrorism. Inspired by true events, the film combines stunning combat sequences, up-to-the minute battlefield technology and heart-pumping emotion for the ultimate action adventure. Act of Valor takes audiences deep into the secretive world of the most elite, highly trained group of warriors in the modern world. When the rescue of a kidnapped CIA operative leads to the discovery of a deadly terrorist plot against the U.S., a team of SEALs is dispatched on a worldwide manhunt. As the valiant men of Bandito Platoon race to stop a coordinated attack that could kill and wound thousands of American civilians, they must balance their commitment to country, team and their families back home. Each time they accomplish their mission...

MPAA Rating: Rated R for strong violence including some torture, and for language

Epic movie honoring those that are brave enough to serve our country in the military? Or propaganda gimmick to glorify the military, in order to raise more mil

For the second time in my writing career on hubpages, I have found myself at a loss for words on a movie. As some of my readers know, the first movie that had this affect on me was "The Iron Lady", but it seems "Act of Valor" has a similar affect on me as well. Granted, it's obviously for a different reason, but I'm still at a loss for words nonetheless, when it comes to this film.

Take in mind, that I have nothing but the utmost respect for all our brave women and men that serve in the military. In fact, I used to briefly be in the military myself, and I come from a military family as well. My father served in the Air Force, and my Step Father is an ex-army veteran. Plus, my adopted grandfather was in the military as well; along with various other members of my family. I have nothing but respect for the people in the armed forces. In fact, I always tell people that military jobs are arguably the most under paid in today's society, and they don't often receive the appreciation they deserve. Therefore, I would like to point out that any criticism that I point out about "Act of Valor" has NOTHING to do with my views on the military in general; as any negatives that are cited in this review, it's a reflection of my analysis on only the film itself. Please, keep that in mind when you read this, as there were certain things about this movie that I didn't like. However, to be fair, there were quite a few things that I did like as well. Anyway, let's get on with the review.

As some readers may know, "Act of Valor" is essentially a war movie starring real life Navy SEALS members, while basing it's story off real life missions allegedly. It's been widely discussed on the internet, and various other places, that the whole casting of real life military soldiers gimmick is a government ploy to boost military recruitment. And to be honest, I can't say that isn't true to a certain extent. Granted, the movie is designed to glorify, and praise many military soldiers for their bravery. But, the movie also seems to glorify them to such an extent that it almost feels like an over extended recruitment TV commercial for the military. In fact, they even use the patented helmet cam during certain scenes, to give viewers a "first person point of view" of what it's like to be a military soldier.

I guess the gimmick behind that is them saying, "Hey, you think these guys are cool? Now, you too can become a hero to serve your country." Granted, they never say those exact words, but it feels very implied throughout this movie; hence I think "Act of Valor" would've worked best as a short film versus a feature length one. However, we'll get more into that in just a minute. For now, let's go over the rest of the plot first before continuing.

The story is fairly cut and dry, as it involves a stereotypical terrorist, who plans on launching an attack on the United States. It's been said that his scheme is so devious that it'll make the incident that transpired on "9/11" seem like nothing by comparison. To make matters worse, the terrorists are using the protection of the Drug Cartels down, in Mexico, to cover their tracks. Oh what are we to do? Where's Superman when you need him? Oh wait, this actually looks like a job for a REAL Superman. Enter the Navy SEALS.

To be brutally honest, none of these Navy SEALS can act that well. In fact, every time they talked, all I could think of was how much I wished they had cast actual actors for these parts. But then again, these guys aren't professionally paid actors, so I can't be too hard on them. Besides, I will give these guys some credit. They're a helluva a lot better actors than guys like Dolph Lundgren, Chuck Norris and Jean-Claude Van Damme. At least, that's my opinion.

Anyway, without giving too much, the Navy SEALS are deployed on a mission to stop these terrorists by any means necessary. Although the film does show the casualty of war, it also features the heroism that can happen in war as well. Showcasing a side of how military soldiers care more about the duty to their nation rather than for themselves, as they make various references to what it means to die with honor and bravery. One of them even eloquently makes a touching speech about how most people often fear death, but seldom few are brave enough to never fear it.

Indeed, if there's one thing that I liked about this movie, then it would definitely be that message, as it truly does portray our military soldiers in the way they should be honored. Having said that though, I can't ignore the flaws in the script. Sure, I know I'll probably get a lot of flak for saying ONE thing wrong about this movie, but I can't ignore the painfully obvious here. If you honestly broke down the script to it's simplest context, then you'd not only come to realize that it's tragically cliched ridden as hell, but it also features a story that's been done over a million times in the past, in much better films. Plus, the mediocre dialogue of the movie doesn't help matters either.

In the end, no matter how you want to look at things, this whole casting of real Navy SEALS is nothing more than a gimmick to promote the movie. Think about it. If this movie had featured a cast of primarily unknown actors that weren't soldiers, or they were just actors like the guys we've seen in "Expendables", then would you still feel the same need to praise this movie? The simple answer to this is "no." Look, as I said before, I liked "Act of Valor", but I'd be lying to my readers if I said this film was perfect. In fact, I would strongly encourage readers to check out films like "Saving Private Ryan", "The Hurt Locker", and etc, before I'd ever recommend "Act of Valor."

As for the "first person point of view", I honestly didn't care for that portion of the film. Not only does the whole concept make the entire movie seem even more gimmicky than it needs to be, but it almost feels too much like a video game, during those key segments; which completely undermines the heroism that's presented on screen whenever the "first person point of view" isn't being used.

Overall, I wouldn't go on record to say "Act of Valor" is a bad film by any means. However, I would argue that it's a bit over hyped, and it probably would've been served better if it had been portrayed as a short thirty minute film; while cutting out the "first person perspective." But then again, it's not a bad movie. As I stated earlier, I liked the portrayal of the Navy SEALS, and I loved the action sequences, as they were very well directed; in spite of a mediocre script. However, I would advise everyone to wait until the DVD/Blue Ray comes out, as this isn't worth seeing in theaters, but it's still entertaining nonetheless at a rating of two and a half out of four.

Act of Valor Question

What do you think about the movie using real life active duty soldiers to star in this?

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    • Stevennix2001 profile imageAUTHOR

      Steven Escareno 

      7 years ago

      I think you completely misread my review, or you probably didn't understand it. I know my grammar is a bit atrocious to read sometimes, so that's probably my fault. However, as I stated in it, i didn't dislike the movie at all. If anything, I thought it was a good film, as I just said it was over hyped. Trust me, there's a big difference.

      As far as acting goes, I did cite in the review that I can't be too hard on these guys because they're not real professional actors. Sure, I did mention it briefly, but you have to keep in mind that as a film critic that I have to look at things from an objective standpoint. I do apologize for not making that clear enough. However, if it helps, I didn't deduct any points from the movie for the acting; hence why it was never brought back up again in the final paragraph. No, this film lost points for other reasons.

      As for what I didn't like about the movie, it was merely the script itself wasn't strong enough to warrant a full length feature; hence I strongly believe that making this a short film would have made this movie a stronger one. Granted, I don't expect you or anyone else to agree with me, but I'm merely making an observation; which warranted a half star deduction.

      However, what really killed this movie for me was the mere concept of using "first person point of view" that not only took away all the realism the movie allegedly tries to establish, but it also makes it come off as more of a gimmicky plot device that completely undermines the heroism that the film tries to convey; hence the full one star deduction.

      Anyway, i hope that explains to you why I gave this film a two and a half out of four. As I stated before, I didn't dislike the film at all, and the acting was the least of this film's problems if you want me to be honest. Hell, I even said, in the review, that they could literally act better than guys like Chuck Norris, Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren, and I did mean that. In hindsight, saying that this film featured some of the worst acting that you'll find in an action movie is a bit of a stretch now that i think about it, as i can think of others that featured far worse. therefore, i'll delete that one line, as I think that might be the reason you're emphasizing that so much during your comment.

      As for everything else you said, let me ask you this. If this movie didn't feature real life Navy SEALS at all, then would you still praise this movie as highly?

      As I said in the review, one of the aspects that I loved about it was that it did show how heroic our soldiers can be, and I even cited how that was one of the best parts of the movie. Heck, I even liked the scenes where we saw the SEALS in action, but the message it tries to convey is severely undermined whenever the "First person point of view" camera comes into play, as half the time it feels the movie turned into a video game whenever that came up. Plus, the script could have been written a whole lot better. Those are the most guilty things about this movie if anything else.

      As for saying this movie glorifies the military to the point that it feels like an over extended recruitment commercial, you are aware that the movie started off as a short film intended to boost military recruitment for the Navy SEALS right? According to various sources, the directors were hired to make a recruitment video for the Navy SEALS website, but were so impressed with the SEALS that they wanted to make a movie featuring them.

      Look, as I said before, I didn't dislike this movie at all. I just don't think it's the best war movie out there. But then again, that's only my opinion. If you feel it's one of the best ones out there, then that's your opinion. In the end, that's all a film review really is. It's nothing more than a guy that watches a movie, and then gives his/her own opinion about it. From your comment, I can tell you obviously don't agree with many of my assessments, as that's fine. Hell, I don't expect people to always agree with me.

      I do apologize if my review somehow offended you or your husband, as that was never my intention. No, like any film critic, my only intention is to analyze each film fairly and objectively as humanly possible; regardless of the subject matter involved.

      However, for whatever it's worth, I'm glad you liked the film, and I hope your husband did as well. As I said before, I did like the way the film portrayed our soldiers, as i even mentioned that in the review too.

      Anyway, I just want to say thank you for taking the time to read this hub, and for taking the time to share some of your thoughts with us about the movie. Also, tell your husband I said thanks for serving our country, as I'm sure he's a great man. :)

    • profile image

      Marine wifey 

      7 years ago

      So you people who didn't like the movie probably NEVER served or have someone who serves in the military. I am a spouse of an Active Duty Marine (currently deployed) and well since these have "real" navy seals acting, that's how military folks talk. We have a lingo of our own, even the families. That shot of the LT & Wife saying goodbyes as he deploys & she breaks down crying (behind closed doors) when he leave, is exactly what we military spouses do. No matter how many times they have deployed. Yes, it wasn't the best of acting but they are NOT actors. These guys lived, breathed & SURVIVED to tell this tale of the UNSUNG HEROES. When you went to watch this movie YOU knew this & yet are surprised....

      You say it glorifies the US military, I say it shows the WORK & SACRIFICE that our PROUD MEN & WOMEN of not just the armed forces but even CIA & other groups do to ensure our freedom & protection. So yes this is not the BEST acting in a movie but one of the most realistic.

    • Stevennix2001 profile imageAUTHOR

      Steven Escareno 

      7 years ago

      Yeah, I think you're right about that. Sure, it's a good action movie, and the film did have it's strong moments. However, I think this movie would've been better off being portrayed as a short film, as the story content of it doesn't seem strong enough to warrant a feature length one. Anyway, I appreciate you stopping by again paradise, as it's always a pleasure seeing you. :)

    • Paradise7 profile image


      7 years ago from Upstate New York

      You're the first person I've read that wasn't all rah-rah about this movie, and I found that somewhat of a relief. I watched the trailer and didn't think too well of the film, just for the reasons you mentioned. It's over-the-top in promoting the American military.

    • Stevennix2001 profile imageAUTHOR

      Steven Escareno 

      7 years ago

      Thanks Angie. I'm glad you liked it. :)

    • angie ashbourne profile image

      angie ashbourne 

      7 years ago

      Hi! Awesome Hub! Angie


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