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Act of Valor - Blu-ray Review

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Act of Valor - Movie Review


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2 stars

Act of Valor, the gung-ho rah-rah military recruitment piece features real Navy SEALs filmed in live-fire scenarios. That’s the film’s hook. And while the gimmick will appeal to a certain crowd of action junkies, video game enthusiasts, military veterans, and those on board with watching a propagandized killing pageant, fortunately for the film’s makers, it’s this very audience that will be most forgiving of its numerous flaws and misdirected agenda.

The idea for the film comes from a 2007 short documentary about the U.S. Naval Special Warfare Combatant-Craft Crewmen – a type of descendant from the Vietnam-era swift boat operators – whose main duty involves inserting and extracting U.S. Navy SEAL teams from impossibly dangerous missions.  The makers of that seven-minute documentary, Mike McCoy and Scott Waugh, reconvened and worked in close concert with the U.S. Navy to create what they hoped to be a love letter to the men and women of our armed forces. And in that regard, they succeeded with Act of Valour.

But for film lovers, critics, and those who’ve yet to buy into America’s cult of war, Act of Valour is a dud. Any value redeemed from using real SEALs in action-based sweep and extraction scenarios is quickly thrown overboard when we’re forced to watch them muddle through Kurt Johnstad’s poor dialogue with wooden Indian stiffness.  It’s not like we’ve been spoiled by brilliant thespianship from Jean-Claude van Damme and Chuck Norris in war-hero action films of the past, but these guys just can’t carry the film’s quiet, personal, conversational moments well enough to be convincing in their roles. Knowing they are not professional actors helps matters, but does nothing to cover the serious inadequacies.

Further emphasizing the film’s failure to sell us on anything more than its tawdry gimmick meant to put butts in the seats, is McCoy and Waugh’s inability to settle on a central message. It’s as if they went into production with a half-baked contrivance and didn’t know what they wanted to say. The film’s plot, if compelled to call it that, has something to do with a pair of villains who lead a clan of suicide vest-laden bombers attempting to cross the United States borders and blow themselves up in major cities across the country.

The scenario plays itself out over numerous locations throughout the world as we hop from the Philippines, to Somalia, then back to the cartel-ruled streets of Maxicali. Constantly on the heels of the bad guys is our ever-faithful SEAL team emerging from behind the cover of an over-powering wall of smoke, hot lead, and frothing explosions. And this is when the film enjoys its biggest successes. When it’s an all-out, balls-to-the-wall action piece.

Watching a swift boat team deploy from beneath a lowering Chinook helicopter, extract a hostage with surgeon-like precision, and then escape aboard the slippery deck of a surfacing submarine is an inspiring thing of beauty that should make any American swell with pride. But in the context of a flimsily scripted feature film, it all feels fake and unnecessary. Like a reckless collision of complex fact and absurd fiction. There’s valour in authenticity, but being a bad movie is far from heroic.

What are the costs, both monetarily and politically, of such a highly trained force? How is American military might perceived in other parts of the world? Can a country that displays such a large stick, speak with a convincing voice? Though we do get a fairly difficult-to-stomach depiction of the direct human costs (hint: it involves a soldier heroically throwing himself on a live grenade), intelligently addressing the importance of any tough questions or beholding a difficult message would likely neither be well received by its intended audience, nor allowed by the military that conceded unprecedented access to its men and machines.

Act of Valor should have been a straight-up documentary. We need to see what the billions spent annually in taxes on the military can buy. Show us all the bad-ass ways we can blow stuff up and dispatch the enemy with the push of a button. That’s the movie we want to see. Trying to mix it with a poorly scripted, ridiculously executed Hollywood film makes it all seem forgettable and unimportant. The real SEALs deserve better than that.

{2jtab: Film Details}

Act of Valor - Movie ReviewMPAA Rating: R for strong violence including some torture, and for language.
: Mike McCoy, Scott Waugh
Writer: Kurt Johnstad
Cast: Alexander Asefa; Alex Veadov; Unnamed military personnel
Genre: action | adventure | military
The only easy day was yesterday.
Memorable Movie Quote: "This is a personnel recovery. Proceed to target."
Relativity Media
Official Site:
Release Date: February 24, 2012
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
June 5, 2012.

Synopsis: An elite team of Navy SEALs embark on a covert mission to recover a kidnapped CIA agent.

{2jtab: Blu-ray Review}

Act of Valor - Movie Review

Component Grades

Blu-ray Disc
2 stars

grade coming

Blu-ray Experience
grade coming


Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - Coming to Blu-ray Combo Pack and DVD June 5, 2012
Screen Formats:




  • Feature-length commentary with directors Mike McCoy and Scott Waugh

Special Features:

  • Deleted Scenes
  • Christmas in the Barracks
  • MREs
  • Shabal in Winter Palace
  • Christo’s House
  • Shabal on Boat
  • Shabal in Kiro
  • Interviews with the Navy SEALs
    • Rorke
    • Dave
    • Mikey
    • Ray
    • Sonny
    • Ajay
    • Weimy
  • Making Of Featurette
  • Real Bullets
  • Real SEALs Real Tactics
  • Silent Warriors
  • “For You” Music Video by Keith Urban
  • Making of the Music Video
  • Director’s Intro

{2jtab: Trailer}


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