I’m sure you’ve all heard of this movie starring real Navy SEALs (using fake names) and based on real SEAL missions. We saw this Saturday night and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since. As far as I’m concerned I could say, “Go see this TONIGHT!” and you could leave right now. Because you should. Act of Valor was the top grossing movie its opening weekend and I would love to help them continue to blow out the competition. But in case you still need convincing….
At the beginning, we hear one of the SEALs writing a letter to the child of one of his battle buddies who apparently doesn’t survive their mission. Already we know, someone isn’t going to make it. This was, in my opinion, a wise choice on the part of the filmmakers. Otherwise I wouldn’t have had much of a sense of fear when I was watching. There was suspense and anxiety every time they went into battle.
I don’t want to go into the story too much because I don’t want to spoil anything – the crowd literally gasped at a couple of the plot points. And the crowd loved this movie. We saw it at the on-post theater, in an uncharacteristically-full screen room, filled with soldiers, airmen and their families. They gasped, they cheered, they cried (or that was probably just me) and when we walked out, I’ve never seen a crowd so somber. It’s easy to see why this is a crowd pleaser.
However, I can also see why the critics hated it. There’s no nudity, no traitors or sadists or serial killers in the unit, no subliminal homoeroticism, no torture (by Americans), no evil Admiral/CEO/politician ultimately pulling the strings behind the terrorists, and for goodness sake, they only shoot the bad guys and let the bad guys’ wives and children run away without a scratch!
More than that, all the SEALs are family men, husbands who love their wives, fathers who dote on their children, patriots who love their country, friends who trust each other completely, who are warriors, no doubt, but they are professionals, not savages.
Definitely not Oscar material.
I really hate how people keep apologizing for the “acting” because it doesn’t star actors. No, it stars real SEALs, who bring a level of realism to the screen that no actor could. Their conversations and interactions aren’t very dramatic, but neither are they in real life.
There’s a scene where they are preparing to engage the enemy and (I’m not very familiar with Navy ranks so sorry if I screw this up) but the Chief Petty Officer tells the Lieutenant he thinks they should approach the situation a different way. The Lieutenant says, “No, this is the plan, this is what we’re doing.” Chief says, “Roger,” and they execute. Boom boom, just like that. Just like they actually would.
If this was a typical Hollywood movie – ya know, with “real actors” - there would be a passionate argument in raised voices 20 yards from the enemy encampment, where Channing Tatum accuses Jake Gyllenhall of “you don’t give a care about these men” and he retorts “You WILL respect my authority or I will take you down myself!” You know. For dramatic effect. Totally. Not. Normal.
Although I will say, that Senior Chief Petty Officer does have quite the stage presence. Whether he’s briefing the SEALs on their mission or interrogating one of the bad guys, he was obviously the most comfortable in front of the camera. I honestly believed he was a hired actor until I got on IMDB. None of the actual SEALs are listed in the credits, of course, and since that role wasn’t listed, he was legit. And when the lieutenant is giving the pre-deployment “pep talk” to his team, it sounded completely natural, like he’d given the same speech 100 times. I wish I could call someone and find out how much was scripted and how much they just sat back and said, “Do what you’d normally do, say what you’d usually say.” I truly couldn’t tell. It felt that real.
I could go on and on, but I promise, you don’t want to miss this one, and if at all possible, please go see this in theaters and support this movie with your $$$. I wouldn’t bring the kids – there are a fair amount of F-bombs and a woman is tortured, though we don’t witness much of anything directly – we just see the results. But that’s a small portion of the film.
Have you seen Act of Valor? What did you think?