Reviews: Act Of Valor

Intense but overly sentimental

This is a good attempt at a reasonably realistic military film but suffers from too many standard Hollywood tropes. Yes, the actors are Navy SEALs applying their real training and skills, and it's pretty cool. Aside from that, a lot of stuff felt fake or forced. Here's a list of a few things that really bugged me:

  • Big fake fireball-style CGI explosions. The car bomb at the opener and the suicide vests in the climax are especially bad offenders. Speaking of the car bomb, it would behoove the viewer to check out Children of Men and see a much better version of the scene this movie blatantly ripped off.

  • Instant Death Bullet for practically anyone not a named or hero character. Complete with that annoying stock "squishy bullet hits flesh" sound effect, CGI headshot bulletholes, and Action Essentials blood splatter. There's also several instances of "spread your arms and do the bullet hit jiggle dance!"

  • Overuse of DRAMATIC SLOW MOTION! and SILENT ACTION, DRAMATIC MUSIC! whenever the filmmakers are trying to punctuate something or show a character being contemplative during a stressful moment.

  • The film reeks of "MURICA FUCK YEA", and the SEAL hero-worship, while somewhat deserved, is quite distracting and obvious.

  • Jitter Cam and confusing editing abound, and it gets a bit difficult to keep track of everything happening when everyone is dressed in the same cammo and firing the same guns at the same generic enemies.

  • Even the good guys get Mooks in the characters of the Mexican SOF who wear masks and serve as cannon fodder to show how serious the battle is.

That all said, I mostly enjoyed the film. Seeing the actual SEALs in action was awesome, and unlike a lot of folks I actually thought the "acting" was quite good. The dialog and radio chatter wasn't dumbed-down or explained to the audience, and the briefing scenes in particular showed how professional the whole crew and support structure were. Unfortunately it isn't quite enough to elevate the film past a generic action flick with an interesting gimmick.