Act of Valor is about a group of soldiers whose mission is to rescue a kidnapped CIA agent and save America from terrorists.
From first time directors, Scott Waugh and Mike McCoy craft a generic action movie rather than a realistic war film. Casting real active Navy SEALs, as leading actors, to make the rescue mission more authentic is a good attempt, they may know how to run Special Ops but they sure as hell can’t act. It’s almost laughable when they talk and the lame dialogues make their interaction even more embarrassing than it already is. Before you continue reading this review, you don’t have to like Act of Valor to support the troops for their services. After all, it’s just a movie with a fictional story.
What’s real is the shooting (using real ammunition), explosions and active Navy SEALs but the performances are not? It's unnatural and surely good acting makes a film more realistic, right? The action sequences were thrilling to watch, give the movie that. The way the soldiers move in silence is really intense and engaging, though at times it makes you feel like you’re playing a FPS game, but some of the action sequences, such as the chase scene, does feel too Hollywood.
The script is so cliché that it would even mortify real actors, the plot to this movie can be described in two lines like in the first paragraph because the story is so basic. It’s probably the only movie to cast active duty Navy SEALs but you don’t have to cast real Navy SEALs to make a movie more realistic. Take Saving Private Ryan for example, worthy of Best Picture award, a war film that redefines the genre featuring realistic battle scenes, anchored by Tom Hank’s performance and he’s not a Navy SEAL.
A film that’s based on actual events, missions conducted by Navy SEALs in this case, doesn't always classify a movie as good, J. Edgar and Amelia for example, even if the topic seems interesting enough to make a movie based on it. The film shows you what it’s like to be a U.S. Navy SEAL but it completely ignores the complexity of war, the soldier’s attitude doesn't help the movie to try and show it either. Their extreme patriotism makes them feel so positive that they’re going to complete the mission, without worrying about the consequences and return home safely to their family; they’re almost like the cast of The Expendables. The lack of character development, basically a group of men with no discernible personalities, makes the film unemotional when at least one of the soldiers predictably dies in the end or when Rorke leaves and his wife is upset to see him go.
On an unrelated note, for those who hates Call of Duty because of Second Chance (and Final Stand) or they feel that getting too many hit markers makes the game unrealistic then watch the scene where Shabal shoots Dave near the end. He shoots Dave around 30 times then Dave, critically wounded, pulls out a pistol and shoots a suicide bomber dead which is the equivalent of hit markers as well as Call of Duty’s Second Chance or Final Stand. Let’s just hope that Act of Valor, advertised as based on true events, and Call of Duty, advertised as one of this generation’s best shooters, isn't the sole reason for someone to join the military.
In conclusion, the realistic missions are admirable but the plot gets muddled as the movie goes on and the mediocre script as well as the poor acting only makes it worse. This movie would've been better if it were a documentary, as this would really show the intensity of war and capture it realistically if well-made.