Just when you thought you'd seen your last over-the-top U.S. military commercial, Hollywood goes a step further: it makes a two-hour-long promotional video, calls it a movie and charges filmgoers money to watch it. For what it is intended to do - appeal to the uber-patriotic and military families - Act of Valor does its job. For the rest of us, it's fubar filmmaking.
Directed by Mike McCoy and Scott Waugh, Act of Valor follows a team of Navy SEALs as they traverse the globe to rescue a kidnapped CIA agent and stop terrorists from infiltrating the United States. The movie's marketing pitch was that the film is not only based on true SEAL missions but that it stars real SEALs, which is sort of cool until you realize that SEALs are trained to fight, not to act.
The acting is terrible across the board and the screenplay is dumb-downed enough to accommodate the lack of acting skills, but no one is watching Act of Valor for the acting so I'll just stop there.
The plot, too, is pretty inane; similar stories have been done before and better. But no one is watching this movie for the plot either, so I'll just stop there.
Everyone who watches Act of Valor is, however, looking for one thing: good action. I'll say this: the movie delivers a lot of action. The filmmakers' emphasis on cool gizmos and high-tech warfare does offer a certain appeal; while hardly groundbreaking, the action does look and feel different than what is often seen in Hollywood movies.
Then again, the directors, neither of whom have done anything noteworthy before this, rely heavily on action clichés, most notably slow-motion shots. People who want their action dumb and overly patriotic - and there are plenty of people who are content with nothing more - will be satisfied. Everyone else will roll their eyes, especially in the third act.
Personally, I laughed at times because the action was so over-the-top.
Act of Valor is not a good movie. It feels like one big commercial to recruit the unsuspecting into the military, and its blatant disregard for quality storytelling becomes increasingly painful. But despite all that, I've seen far less entertaining action movies made for more money and with better actors. Act of Valor is not a good movie, but it's made for a certain type of audience, and that type of audience will eat this fubar film up.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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