Act of Valor is not only a bad film, but an unsuccessful film. While attempting to show us that Navy Seals are heroes and we should honor them, all it really shows us is that Navy Seals are bad actors. Mainly because they aren’t actors. I would make an awful singing telegram, but no one knows this because I would never claim to be one.
The film follows a real-life Navy SEAL team as they supposedly engage in typical SEAL missions (rescuing CIA operatives from the clutches of drug cartels, protecting our borders from terrorist infiltrators, etc.) The film can basically be divided into two parts: the wholesome male bonding talking scenes, and the scenes of the group in action. The latter could have been a decent film, and certain parts are actually interesting as a glimpse into the lingo, the techniques and the procedures of an elite, bonded, fighting team. The former, however, are painful to watch. I am fervently waiting for the day when a male war-time movie can be made without the obligatory scene of the group standing around a fire talking about their fears. Surely soldiers don’t ACTUALLY engage in this kind of behavior? I would hope that in times of trial, they would be eating, masturbating or silently praying. Or the impressive multi-taskers would be doing all three. But this ham-handed, unrealistic, stilted Tuesday- night- sitcom version of male camaraderie does no one a service. It’s not only boring, but does a disservice to the men that do actually serve our country by cheapening their bond built of shared experience and military training.
My greatest fear about the film, however, is mainly that people that have complex feelings about the U.S. military, as most of us do, will see this film and it will not cause them to research what made Mogadishu such a clusterfuck or how the military covered up Pat Tillman’s death by friendly fire, but will only make us sink further into disengagement brought on by recitations of Tecumseh poems and the gentle sound of “Taps” echoing through a graveyard.