Film Review: Act of Valor
A problem with some action movies is that the people in them don’t look remotely capable of pulling of the things they’re portrayed as doing on the screen. Act of Valor aims to sidestep this problem by having real Navy SEALs play, essentially, themselves. It must work, right?
No. Just no. It doesn’t work at all. At all. One would think that the SEALs could appear natural, they are after all themselves going on mission based on their actual missions, but their acting is as stilted and wooden as their dialog delivery is atrocious (the professional actors being only ever so slightly better). There’s a central bromance that you won’t care about at all, on top of a marriage that you won’t care about either. You’d be forgiven for thinking that all these people met five minutes before filming. You don’t buy for a second that these guys are an actual team.
They aren’t so much individuals as they are a gelatinous entity with one character trait: “I’m a patriotic military badass”. Because the SEALs are all but invincible there’s no tension nor sense of danger, and when something bad inevitably happens (even those with the most limited amount of cognitive ability can put it together three minutes in) there’s no impact because you never have a reason to care about any of them.
Not that you’ll even be able to tell what’s going on as the filmmakers have little interest in providing you with spacial awareness or comprehension of the action scenes’ events. If that wasn’t enough it’s all but impossible to tell the SEALs apart, lending credence to the gelatinous entity theory.
The film is essentially a badly executed jumble of clichés, a jingoistic piece of propaganda complete with characters that insult the words stereotype and caricature. It’s very telling that all the villains are of miscellaneous minority races and those who actually are Caucasian are, of course, Eastern European. Team America, World Police to the rescue. Hoo-ha! There are puddles on warm, sunny days that have more depth and charm than this incompetently written, maladroitly directed and forgettable piece of revolting tripe.
There is exactly one good thing about this film: Its sound design. The guns sound real and have this visceral, punchy, meaty feel. They convey the sense that every bullet is doing nasty things to people. So that’s nice, I guess. Well and then there’s the one bit where the guy catches a guard that’s falling into a river after being sniped (it’s in the trailer), that’s pretty cool.
Final Verdict: Military bros doing military stuff. It’s a feature-length Navy commercial without the Keith David voice-over. The difference being the commercials actually have good line delivery. And possibly better characterization. And cohesiveness. And directing. You get it. No fun or entertainment to be found here, move on.
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