ACT OF VALOR
Review by Michael Jacobson
Stars: United States Navy Active Duty SEALS
Directors: Scott Waugh, Mike McCoy
Audio: DTS HD 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.40:1
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Features: See Review
Length: 111 Minutes
Release Date: June 5, 2012
“If you’re not willing to give up everything…you’ve already lost.”
The Navy SEALS are amongst the most heralded yet unknown heroes of our country. We know the name of the organization, and countless movies and military dramas have fed us their exploits for our entertainment. Yet they work silently and practically namelessly. They commit acts of unimaginable skill and courage, and put mind, body and life on the line while remaining in the shadows, often letting some preening President take all the glory for their hard-won successes.
The past year has given us two of the greatest glimpses into the life and work of these silent warriors. One was the book American Sniper by Chris Kylie, the man with the most confirmed kills of any man in military history. The other was the film Act of Valor. It could have been just another fun, explosive action movie, but by deciding to weave together actual Navy SEAL missions into a fictional, cohesive story made for some intense drama. Then using real active duty Navy SEALS to play the platoon added an authenticity that no actor, no matter how skilled, could reach.
I’d love to sing their individual praises, but true to their nature, their real names are not given. But directors and co-producers Scott Waugh and Mike McCoy still managed to do the only possible justice to the story of these men, which was to use the real thing. No stunt men had to be trained, no actors had to attend a phony boot camp. Anything needed to be done? These guys could do it, and then some.
The story involves a collaboration between a major Soviet drug lord and an Islamic terrorist with a sinister plan to carry out on American soil: namely, setting off 16 suicide bombers in various crowded cities armed with vests filled with lethal ceramic ball bearings. No metal detector would spot them, but the deadly projectiles could easily kill hundreds in a matter of seconds.
Our heroes must first stage a daring rescue of a CIA agent being held and tortured (and by the way, our enemies use REAL torture, not the playing of Sesame Street songs at high volumes), and end up warring against not only the terrorists, but the Mexican drug cartel when the enemies decide to use America’s porous southern border as the means of infiltrating our country.
I love good action movies, but knowing how many effects go into them and how many stunt doubles really take the falls for the heroes, it might be hard to take them seriously again after watching Act of Valor. This movie is so real and so intense that live ammunition was even used during the many gunfights. What these real-life American heroes do on the screen in front of our gaping eyes gives a whole new meaning to the definition of badass.
The American military has a long, glorious tradition…and through trials by fire, unfair scrutiny by press and politician, vilification by some with agendas, they continue to serve, and serve with honor, dignity, and yes, valor. This movie is an exciting and powerful tribute to their bravery, and an excellent way to say thank you for all that they do.
It’s no ordinary action film, but this Blu-ray delivers exactly what you’d expect for the genre. The visuals are fast and striking, and rich detail level is apparent in every frame of the movie, from the brightly lit sky jumps to the night vision battles under blackest night. Every image is a testimonial to the wonders of high definition.
Likewise, this DTS HD soundtrack gives you all you want and more. You will be in the center of battle after battle, and the crispness of the gunfire and the potency of the explosions will rock your home theater. In addition, the spoken words and music are well balanced and blended.
The extras start with an introduction to the movie from the co-directors, as well as a commentary from them. There are 6 deleted scenes and numerous production featurettes on the making of the movie, the use of live ammunition, and using real SEALS (along with some interviews with the actual men).
There is also a music video from Keith Urban, as well as a behind-the-scenes look at the making of it, as well as a DVD copy of the movie.
Our military may not always get the credit it deserves, but Act of Valor is a superb piece of entertainment that might make more than a few people think twice about the real dangers our nation faces, and how lucky we are that such an elite group of men and women are doing something about them every day.