Skip to main content

Movie Review: Act of Valor (2012)

Bandito Brothers Productions
Runtime: 110 minutes
Rated: R (for strong violence, including torture, and language)
Directors: Mike McCoy, Scott Waugh
Writer: Kurt Johnstad
Starring: Alex Veadov, Roselyn Sanchez, Nestor Serrano
Action | Adventure | Thriller

Act of Valor is about a band of Navy SEALS who put their lives on the line to extract a CIA officer captured by a group of separatist smugglers. This leads to the discovery that the U.S. has been targeted by radical Islamist suicide bombers led by an America-hating Jew named “Christo” (Alex Veadov) and his partner and allay “Muhammed Abu Shabal” (Jason Cottle) who are planning to infiltrate the country from the Philippines through Mexico with high-tech incendiary vests.

We meet this team of heroes (playing themselves with alternate names in a story that is supposed to be based on various events and with real tactics), though we never get to learn much about them beyond the pitifully brief introductions at the movie’s beginning. These six men are Lt. Commander Rourke, Special Operative Chief Dave, SPO First Class Ajay, Weimy, Sonny, and Mikey. Each of these talented men have backstories that we are supposed to really relate to and feel for. Lt. Rourke’s wife (Ailsa Marshall) has a baby on the way.

There is an interrogator, an intellectual “big gun,” two “token black” soldiers, one coming from poverty (of course) while the other is at least suggestively gay. So they hit two of the big protected classes at once. There...I spent more time introducing them than the film bothered to do.

I wish I could say that Act of Valor was a commendable film. I really can’t, but there are still audiences for these types of movies. Accompanying the devotion to machine gun fire and detailed military stakeouts leading to full-on assaults and a rescue (which is the only way the film can build any sort of intrigue at all) is the sense that this movie is and will remain forgettable, despite the most “valiant” of efforts.

This loud movie, with little character building and lots of tech-know-how combat (shared where everybody gets to encourage future SEALS by showing their stuff) lets us see blood-splatter against walls when enemies are taken down. When not in combat, our soldiers are shown as family men with great integrity doing what must be done to secure a nation. That was clearly the intent. And then it closes out as a rather discouraging tearjerker, even though we’re not ever ready for it to be. We just don’t care for anyone like we’re supposed to, which is a shame.

The performances of this very, very non-star cast have only one unexpected thing going for them: We can better pay attention to their efforts as ordinary people and as soldiers with ordinary struggles living ordinary lives than if they were celebrities. It’s nice to watch a movie without the supercharged egos and legendary luck of celebrity soldier figures in virtual demigod roles who make it through the impossible. Not here. These are well-planned operations with results achieved through teamwork.

But the fact remains that these actors don’t act like actors. They act like ordinary people trying to act without any acting skill whatsoever. Whether or not some can overlook this will depend on how much a viewer likes sacrifices-in-the-line-of-duty movies that want us more than anything to focus on the message above all else. But even rolling with that, it’s not easy to call this one a success. A movie must do more than mean well.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

When Jesus Turns Down the Glory: 10 Worst Ever Christian Songs

It’s a sad testimony when even the creator of a thing realizes that the product isn’t what it was intended to be. Well, actually it’s a good thing. It just doesn’t happen often enough. The Christian music industry is, shall we say, not up to par with where its admirers (and even creators and ardent well-wishers) would hope it would be. And when even the average believer realizes that their music is not market-cornering stuff, all should know that there is a problem.

Now not all Christian music sucks (you might even find a few rock songs from artists like Petra on Joe Holman’s ipod that he still sometimes listens to and enjoys), but what makes the stuff that does suck suck is that what sucks sucks for a number of different reasons. We begin the countdown going from best of the worst to absolute worst...

Movie Review: The Cabin in the Woods (2012)

When free spirit “Jules” (Anna “Go Girls” Hutchison) tells her best friend “Dana” (Kristen “Revolutionary Road” Connolly) what a good time they’ll be having at a cabin in the remote woods, you automatically know and are glad that she has no idea at all what awaits her or her friends, and neither does Jules’ jock boyfriend “Curt” (Chris “Thor” Hemsworth). The same is true of their intellectual friend with his notably piercing gaze, “Holden” (Jesse “Grey’s Anatomy” Williams) and their stoner friend “Marty” (Franz “The Village” Kranz) who seems to have a better grasp of reality, despite himself. Takes all kinds.

After taking off in the RV up the mountain, they stop for gas and run into a weirdly cryptic and confrontational gas station attendant (Tim De Zarn). When they’re back on the road after a near-fight, it isn’t long before they arrive and forget all about it. Following horror movie suit in letting out their whoas about how cool the place is and how much fun they will have losing t…

Movie Review: Django Unchained (2012)

At about 3 hours long, Django Unchained is Quentin Tarantino’s latest mental sickness-inspired adventure of a slave named “Django” (Jamie Foxx) who is freed by a German dentist-turned-bounty hunter, “Dr. King Schultz” (Christoph Waltz) who helps Django rescue his enslaved wife from a cruel plantation owner (Leonardo DiCaprio) in Mississippi.