Action Movie Fanatix Review: Act of Valor

The Only Easy Day Was Yesterday.

Starring: Alex Veadov, Roselyn Sánchez, Nestor Serrano, Emilio Rivera, and active duty U.S. Navy SEALs and U.S. Navy Special Warfare Combatant Crewmen

Director: Mike McCoy and Scott Waugh

2012  |  110 Minutes  |  Rated R

“This could be big trouble in Little China, fellas.  They are going to hit us at home.” – Miller

When I first heard about Act of Valor I was SUPER excited to check it out at the theater.  Next I heard that it used first person cameras during the action scenes – sweet in video games, not in movies.  I waited for the DVD release and finally decided to give it a go.  Now I am wishing I had seen it while I could see it on the big screen.

After SEAL Team Seven saves CIA Agent Morales in Costa Rica.  The information that she had uncovered reveals that Abu Shabal, a Chechen Muslim terrorist, has a plot to send suicide bombers into eight different locations in the United States.  SEAL Team Seven is deployed to different locations around the world to put a stop to this terrorist’s plot.

The story is just enough setup to warrant us following SEAL Team Seven through a few missions.  This isn’t Casablanca (like anyone would actually want to watch that crap), its an action movie.  I just need enough to get me into it and good enough action to keep me into it.

The opening scene is absolutely horrifying.  I won’t ruin it for you if you haven’t seen it yet.  That scene sets the tone for the rest of the film and instantly gave us a reason to root for the good guys.

The directors do a great job filming some excellent action scenes in some traditional and some not so traditional ways.  I could have done with a little less of the first person viewpoints but other than that I felt they showed the action in many different and exciting ways.  At least the first person was never for an extended amount of time like we saw in Doom.  Yuck!

Act of Valor delivers some of the most memorable action sequences.  The first mission alone basically starts with the awesome scene that was shown in the trailer where the sniper head shots the enemy who falls backward into the SEAL’s arms sticking up out of the river to prevent the sound of the body’s splash into the water.  After that we are treated to a firefight, a guns-a-blazing car chase and two boats unloading their .50 cals on the chasers to save the fleeing soldiers.  And that is all in the first mission.  Whew!

I have seen some complaints about the acting in Act of Valor, specifically the fact that non-actors (members of the U.S. Military) are expected to act.  For me, I never felt like it was SO obvious who were trained actors and who weren’t.  They were mostly shown in military situations – briefings and combat – so I wouldn’t be expecting a full range of emotions on display.  Maybe I just have a place in my heart that feels for the members of the U.S. Military without needing to know their entire backstory.

The best character though is Miller.  He has some great lines throughout and he just seems like something of a prick when he is interrogating Christo.  Rightfully so.  Christo was aiding a terrorist but it is still fun to see him be anything less than professional.

When I read things like “I don’t know what to make of Act of Valor. It’s like reviewing a recruiting poster.” by such “respected” critics as Peter Travers it’s no surprise I tend to not trust any mainstream critics.  Heaven forbid a movie honor some true heroes and be a fun, action packed thriller.  You have got to wonder if people like Travers have any joy in their lives.  Act of Valor was a lot of fun.  It isn’t a perfect film but it is a fun movie with some absolutely awesome action scenes that put me on the edge of my seat.  I would definitely recommend it to action fans and will certainly watch it again and again.