Act of Valor: A dispay of heroism or American propaganda?

| February 27, 2012 | 8 Comments

Photo courtesy of Relativity Media

The United States military service has always been there for stability and protection of the country and its citizens first and foremost. Most people don’t think about the day-to-day basis of what these brave soldiers have to go through to protect our country from threats by risking their lives in active duty.

That being said, “Act of Valor” has failed as the blockbuster movie it wanted to be.

Some movies portray the grit, grime and heartbreak involved with serving our country very well (Think “The Hurt Locker” and “Saving Private Ryan”).

“Act of Valor” tries to accomplish a grittier version of this, as we meet a group of Navy Seals on their mission to rescue a captured officer from the CIA and stop a terrorist plot against the United States while they’re at it.

Sadly, the movie didn’t bring the realism of the Navy Seals as they advertised and instead, chose to go in the route of a fast-paced, action propaganda flick.

Mike McCoy and Scott Waugh first created The Act of Valor to be a recruitment video for the Navy Seals. Later, they changed their mind and decided to make it into a very realistic action film.

However, it was clear from the film direction that they were looking for people to join up for service.

The post-9/11 fear factor was fully apparent from the start, thanks to the narrator’s dialogue during the opening and editing credits, which showed names of people who died in their own “Acts of Valor” after 9/11.

While the sacrifice these people gave and the daily reminder their names stand for can’t be denied, the effect of this ploy made the movie feel like nothing more than a propaganda piece instead of a realistic insight into Seal’s lives.

It was clear that the influence of the Armed Forces told them to make it into a positive light no matter what the circumstances were. They always came off as the victors despite the odds and for the most part, had none of our troops killed.

The film depicted the Seals’ tight-knit, brotherly bond in the beginning of the film before they went back on duty together. They build up this range by always being there for each other in their times of need.

The emotional range of the movie begins to grow in the beginning. The Seals then leave their families to do their part and the personal growth dies quickly following that.

Instead, the movie takes a turn in favor of action sequences and their sense of duties in the job. This is not a horrible thing, but the action sequences are fairly unbelievable when they jump into fighting scenes without knowing how many men they are facing.

(Spoiler alert) All foes are vanquished all too quickly and easily. If there’s anything the American people have learned from America’s recent wars, it’s that nothing is accomplished without sacrifice.

Act of Valor uses the contents of “realism” loosely. The actors are real off-duty Seals but the acting is expectedly unbelievable.

The story line, however, is all over the place and contains immense sets of action scenes that completely corrupt the good bits of the story.

They also move very fast between locations.

The Seals travel from Iraq to Russia and Mexico. The plotline involving a threat towards the United States from both Middle Eastern terrorists and Russians is strange and a bit off the wall.

The Seals take advantage of a new type of explosive that can’t be detected by electronic scanners but can cause a much larger explosion than C4. This was another annoying plot device that made the contents of the film more unrealistic.

The combat and first person shots were mediocre but were very brief and made everything look like you were playing a real life version of Call of Duty.

“Act of Valor” is a bit too much to endure. There are better movies that depict the military standard of realism that won’t tease you in the way this film does.

It’s infuriating when a movie doesn’t deliver on its aim. “Act of Valor” hardly comes up as any more than an act of mediocrity mixed with some military propaganda. This is not a movie that audiences haven’t seen a million times before and will most likely just fade into the background never to be heard from again.

If you want a disguised action movie failing to pay the role of an intelligent military movie then this is the film for you. If not, you can dismiss this one soldiers.

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  1. Dangerclose001 says:

    What a horrible job of reviewing. I could quibble with some of your statements that are presented as ‘facts” like “told them to make it into a positive light no matter what the circumstances were.”
     
    But when you say the “action sequences are fairly unbelievable when they jump into fighting scenes without knowing how many men they are facing”, I find it hard to fathom what you find unbelievable. If you think SEALs will only enter a fight if they have every bit of information why would you 3 paragraphs earlier dismiss as embellishment that they always emerge victorious despite the odds. It shouldn’t be that hard to win if you already know every parameter of the encounter (which I agree, they probably strive to do).
     
    “All foes are vanquished too quickly and easily”. I agree that the heroes win, but I wouldn’t have called it quick or easy. Yes, they managed to deal with problems like they were easy, but just because they completed their missions while getting shot in the eye, losing radio comms to the support boats, blown up by a grenade, shot with a rocket, and repeatedly shot with an AK-47 doesn’t really make it easy. It shows the value of training. Medical training, contingency planning and hellish physical training that builds a never quit attitude. These guys are the tip of a very big spear. The rest of that spear was there providing support, transport, comms, and intelligence. When you have 50-100 motivated professional individuals, you absolutely can get things done quickly.
     
    “Immense sets of action scenes that completely corrupt the good bits of the story”.  I totally don’t get you on this. One of the premises of the movie is that SEALs are a group that will go and operate anywhere on the Globe in Sea, Air or Land and you think that “corrupts” the story?  I’m not seeing this at all.
     
    Your level of attention was also rather lacking since THERE WERE NO MIDDLE EASTERN TERRORISTS in the movie. You could have complained about a Russian Muslim using Filipino fanatics as suicide bombers, but you weren’t even paying attention to the movie.
     
    Ceramic balls are an “annoying” plot device?They never said the explosive gel was undetectable, just that it wouldn’t set of metal detectors commonly in use at stadiums and other such events. That was the POINT of the part where they held the metal detector wand over the bucket of metal ball bearings and then over the ceramic balls. 
     
    You didn’t like the first person perspective – fine, that’s your prerogative. However, *I* felt that added to sense of actually being there. It really made me imagine how I would feel if I was in that position where I had to open a door where there was very likely someone who would try to kill me. That my very survival would depend on my reactions in the next few moments. Decisions made in a time span that could be measured in milliseconds.
     
    Not sure what your examples are of “better movies that depict the military stand of realism”. Do you mean movies that are just as realistic but better or movies that are more realistic. I’d give you that there may be some movies with better acting – but I’d argue that in NONE of them do you ever feel you’re watching an actual SEAL in action and not just a movie actor. And that’s definitely not the case with this movie.
     
     
     

    • dgksopinion says:

       @Dangerclose001 I agree with you!  If you have ever known a Seal or even seen them train you would know that they are as tough and resourceful as any of the ‘Bourne’ heros but without special effects and doubles to make them look good.  I agree that the movie had a lot in it BUT, seriously, the story is what is really happenng!  Are people just not reading the paper or watching the news.  I am so honored to have them guarding my family.

      • Altofraggle says:

        @dgksopinion @Dangerclose001

      • Altofraggle says:

        @dgksopinion @Dangerclose001 Your both biased morons, you put these men so high in your opinion but they are trained to kill people you will never meet and know nothing about. As for the last idiot saying they are like “the bourne” seriously what the hell is wrong with you they fight and die just like normal human beings they are nothing like fictional characters from movies. I’ve seen many navy seals after active duty, and just like every branch of military that sees action some come back fine, some overly agressive and angry, and some just fucked in the head with no chance of returning to normal. I have children and I will not let them watch this garbage propaganda that has romanticized war yet again, because that’s who the movie was made for, weak impressionable people willing to sign up for wars they do not understand to fight people they do not know cause they some action seems and explosions….go merica

      • Altofraggle says:

        @dgksopinion @Dangerclose001 Your both biased morons, you put these men so high in your opinion but they are trained to kill people you will never meet and know nothing about. As for the last idiot saying they are like “the bourne” seriously what the hell is wrong with you they fight and die just like normal human beings they are nothing like fictional characters from movies. I’ve seen many navy seals after active duty, and just like every branch of military that sees action some come back fine, some overly agressive and angry, and some just fucked in the head with no chance of returning to normal. I have children and I will not let them watch this garbage propaganda that has romanticized war yet again, because that’s who the movie was made for, weak impressionable people willing to sign up for wars they do not understand to fight people they do not know cause they saw some action scenes and explosions….go merica

  2. sealteam4 says:

    Barry Falls you are clueless.

  3. superduckz says:

    How’s this for propaganda only of the leftist bend?  I await worrisome reviews of any or all of them.   Fahrenheit 9/11; Rendition; In the Valley of Elah; Why We Fight; Homecoming; The War Within; Lions For Lambs; Stop Loss; Redacted; No End  In Sight; The Kingdom; and Home of the Brave

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