"Act of Valor" fails to complete mission
“Act of Valor” is an action film starring active duty Navy SEALs that sadly falls short of it’s potential to become a classic in the genre. The film is set mainly in South America and also in the Philippines. The movie follows a team of Navy SEALs on a covert mission to rescue an abducted CIA agent in the Philippines, uncovering a devastating terrorist plot in the process.
Right off the bat, the fact that the main characters are not professional actors is very evident. The performances are reminiscent of those found in low-budget films such as “Facing The Giants” and “Courageous.” So anyone looking for a film with a Best Actor Oscar nomination, turn back now. This lack of acting experience can pull the viewer out of the story at some points and distract from the otherwise gritty, realistic nature of the movie.
However, the story is an exciting, roller coaster action plot. Right from the get-go the audience sees who the bad guy is and realizes why he needs to be stopped. The plot is centered around the Navy SEALs trying to stop an Islamic terrorist from sending 16 suicide bombers through the Mexicali smuggling tunnels to attack major U.S. cities including Seattle, San Diego and Las Vegas. Despite the fact that the plot is very fast-paced and exciting, it is also cliché. It would be very plausible to imagine Ethan Hunt tackling this nearly impossible mission.
Realistic visuals lost in bad acting
The movie has an element of gritty reality absent from many movies in the action genre. This is no explosion fest, though those are present. The SEALs are not set up against impossible odds and they don’t overcome them in James Bond fashion. There are moments where they are outgunned and nearly killed, only saved by the assistance of backup. Sadly, this grittiness is at times lost in the bad acting and cliché story, sometimes feeling like “Call of Duty” the movie, complete with first person shooter camera angles.
Character development was extremely lacking in this film. Though you do care about the SEALs and their families, there is no real character growth that attaches you to the men. This hurts the film when contrasted to great military films such as “Saving Private Ryan,” where the viewer feels like they know the characters and feel for them. There’s no real emotional connection to the characters and this truly takes away from this film’s potential.
Though this movie does pay respect to men and women in the military, I believe they deserved a better film with a better, less recycled plot. It is understandable that the main characters are indeed Navy SEALs, but their lack of acting experience hurts the film at some points.
Patriotic message only redeeming factor
Despite the lack of character development, this was a very enjoyable movie to watch. There are many moments where the viewer could presumably unleash a patriotic outburst of excitement at the sight of American soldiers decimating terrorists and drug smugglers with pure firepower. But the second anyone watches “Act of Valor” with a critical eye, the movie falls apart with a cheap plot and lack of nearly any character development. The one thing that can be taken away from this film is that the United States is blessed with the most well trained and effective military in the world to protect its people, thank you to the men and women who fight and give their lives to protect our freedoms.