Thursday, June 21, 2012

Act of Valor

Directed by Mike McCoy, Scott Waugh.
2012. Rated R, 110 minutes.
Roselyn Sanchez
Alex Veadov
Jason Cottle
Nestor Serrano
Emilio Rivera
Ailsa Marshall
Gonzalo Menendez
U.S. Navy SEALs
U.S. Navy Special Warfare Combatant Crewmen

Act of Valor is billed as a movie made by U.S. Navy SEALs for U.S. Navy SEALs. The rest of us can either take it or leave it. I have a feeling that anyone into action and/or war flicks will take it. Our tale follows a team of SEALs whose mission is to rescue undercover CIA agent Lisa Morales (Sanchez). She’s been kidnapped after her cover is apparently blown by Cristo (Veadov), the international drug dealer she’s been investigating. Pretty quickly, it’s discovered that this is merely the tip of the iceberg. Unsurprisingly, our heroes find themselves efforting to stop a major terrorist plot with eyes on multiple locations within the United States. Before any of this happens, frontline defenders of the free world do what they must. They have a get-together at the beach to say goodbye to their loved ones, maybe even confide in one another in hopes of resolving any last minute personal issues. For Lt. Rorke, the team’s leader ,it’s an especially difficult time to be deployed. His wife is expecting their first child. He doesn’t want anyone to know, but his bestest buddy Chief Dave is a bit of a blabbermouth. Everyone knows.

With that, we’re on to the part of the movie that keeps us on the edge of our seats: watching the SEALs in what becomes a global operation to end a threat against us, here at home. This isn’t Rambo or Commando impossibly and singlehandedly mowing down hundreds of bad guys and dropping corny one-liners. This is a team of highly trained seamen who are excellent at what they do, but will take help whenever they can get it. The action scenes feel real. We see them implementing their training. Save for possibly one moment involving an RPG, there are no superhuman feats. It helps maintain tension during these sequences. Our sense of danger is palpable. If there is a drawback, it’s that the first person shooter angle is overused. It comes across gimmicky and not as clear as it needs to be.

Wisely, there aren’t endless soliloquys of exposition. Explanations are given in a succinct, no-frills fashion. It’s basically, “This is what we know and that is where you’re going. Go get ‘em, boys!” The one piece of story AoV does use lots of words on is what’s going on with Lt. Rorke. This is repeatedly hammered into our head to ensure our proper response at the end. The writers don’t seem to understand that it doesn’t need to be so heavy-handed. Trust me, we get it. With a little less time on this, the ending would still have the same effect. Less time here would also benefit the performers. Lt. Rorke and Chief Dave get most of the lines among the good guys. Believe me, neither is in line for an Oscar. A Razzie, maybe.

AoV manages to overcome its flaws to deliver a movie that’s exhilarating, sad and controversial. It entertains, but not merely for entertainment’s sake. It doesn’t dwell on the rights and wrongs of war. Instead, it just presents us with the reality of these men’s lives. However, in doing so it may come across as pure propaganda and more than a bit militaristic. The actual U.S. Navy is said to look upon this as a recruitment tool. That said, the action still carries the day. Narratively speaking it’s average or less in comparison to other action flicks. In terms of combat scenes, it’s much more.

MY SCORE: 6.5/10

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