Homefront movie
7.25 out of 10
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire movie
8.75 out of 10
Disney's Frozen movie
10.0 out of 10
Delivery Man movie
6.75 out of 10
8.25 out of 10

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Act of Valor

Best of the Best

Rated: R  Strong violence, incluing some torture, and for language
Release Date: February 24, 2012
Runtime: 1 hr 41 min

Director: Mike McCoy, Scott Waugh
Writers: Kurt Johnstad
Cast: Alex Veadov, Nester Serrano, Roselyn Sanchez, active duty Navy SEALs

SYNOPSIS: Inspired by true events, Navy SEALs set out on a rescue mission to recover a CIA agent an find themselves with intel that uncovers a terrorist plot against the United States.

 Mike McCoy and Scott Waugh are no strangers to the warriors of the Navy SEALs. Directors of the documentary short Navy SWCC, these stuntmen turned filmmakers take a script from 300 scribe Kurt Johnstad to bring to audiences a real portrayal of the men of the Navy SEALs and their work to protect our borders from threats around the world.

When two CIA agents working in the field (Nestor Serrano, Roselyn Sanchez) are attacked, the men of the Bandito Platoon are called into action for a rescue operation. Leaving their families behind, the Navy SEALs prep for a HALO drop around the compound where one of the agents is being tortured for information. During the assault, the SEALs find a cell phone that holds intelligence about a possible terrorist threat against the United States. An extremist with plans to infiltrate and plant suicide bombers in populated public American locations.

Act of Valor does something that is seldom seen in cinema. McCoy and Waugh put real-life active duty Navy SEALS in front of the camera, not actors, in a fictionalized story of true life events. The only film that comes to mind is Audie Murphy starring as himself in the film To Hell and Back based on his autobiographical book. True life military heroes who HALO (High Altitude Low Opening) parachute and stride into hot landing zones probably had more trepidation learning lines to recite in front of the camera. I know I would. Of course, I never jumped out of a perfectly workable airplane higher than twelve thousand feet.

In this 'story', men leave their wives and children for each mission, one of them currently expecting a newborn baby at any time. The men share a kinship forged in days of close combat training and hardened in the flames of combat. With each departure for mission preparation, the families suffer the uncertainty of losing their husband's to enemy aggression. But like the Lieutenant says, you need to get your lives squared away on the home front in order to find the focused balanced that is required in the field. In that way, the film focuses on the men in the field without the distraction of a child's cold, a late mortgage payment, or an unresolved spousal argument. As the men prepare to fall out into the clouds from the rear ramp of a military plane, they focus on the mission parameters knowing they have each other at their back.

Associated with Tom Clancy, the film has the same earmarks as most Clancy books or films. Smugglers and an extremist terrorist fit the bill as the villains working to their own ends and against the United States. The only thing that stands between the success of their plan are the highly trained covert teams that put their lives in peril to protect our nation. Like a video game in the spirit of Call of Duty, McCoy and Waugh show the campaigns around the world with digitized global maps and first-person camera angles when the squads start their sweep and clears.

Act of Valor contains fine battle sequences filled with parachuting, helicopter repelling, sniper fire, enemy compound sweep and clears, submarines, and global campaigns. The realism of the film relies entirely on the active-duty Navy SEALs that are in the film. And some of them can actually act, too! There are minor moments where using real-life military personal is distracting in terms of the acting, especially in the more dramatic points of the storyline, but they make it up by the fact that they live the life every day. The fact that the movie and the end credits only list their first names is testament to the dangers they face.

If you go into the darkened theater for Act of Valor thinking that you are going to enjoy a seat-of-your-pants political military action thriller, you may be disappointed. You need to realize that these Navy SEALs are pulling back the curtain to their practices and techniques that adds stark realism to how the world really works. There will be bullets flying, fireball explosions, and villains, but if you are looking forward to some action hero one liners like 'Do you feel lucky' or 'Yippy Ki Yay...', you may have want to wait for the next Die Hard movie.

WORTH: Matinee or DVD

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