Act of Valor (2012)

“Roger that, Blackbeard 6 Actual…we are Oscar Mike on the film review at this time! Over!” Eventually a piece of media would emerge that would blur the line between games and cinema…and I think that Act of Valor MAY be it. This military action flick is pure, undeniable ‘Rah Rah America’ but at least MOST of the presentation is done well; with a collection of surprisingly exciting action sequences kicking things up a notch. The acting is mostly terrible but considering that the ‘actors’ are supposedly ex-military, non-actor dudes, it’s nearly forgiveable. Nearly. The ‘story’ centres on US Navy Seal Team 7 as they’re assigned to prevent a despicably religious Eastern Bloc fanatic (that blows up a school of cute kids…he’s THAT bad) from unleashing a group of Filipino fundementalists through Mexico into the dear ole US of A; attired in the newest terrorist, suicide-vest fashions. It’s basically a live action ‘Call of Duty’ game, right down to the obnoxious, over-used ‘first person shooter’ POVs. The characters also have as much depth as their videogame counterparts; just flat, lazy and clearly there only to spout robotic dialogue in order to get the next scene of spectacularly loud action. On the plus side, the actual involvement of the US military helps with the visual credibility of what they’re trying to show us…even if it is just Navy Seals (1990) with less Sheen and Biehn. Comparing the two pieces of cinematic military propaganda is interesting though. Being that ‘Navy Seals’ came out at a time when the interweb was a product of most households imaginations, they could get away with ‘adventuring’ the subject matter right up; safely holding the audience at arms length from the carnage. Now…in the information-heavy and cynical 2000s, we’ve seen enough candid (and upsetting) combat footage fly out of Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan (to name a few) to now call ‘bullshit!’ on THAT approach. In this one, the combat is messy, chaotic and, at times, literally in your face; while the base subject matter is more consciously controversial. The filmmakers were smart enough to recognize this and opted for a more gritty and ‘immediate’ tone as opposed to ‘adventurish’ escapism. Sudden death isn’t pretty in this flick…on either side of the battle. Bullets are quickly attracted to peoples melons here and many a head pop messily apart. The cinematography, which I think was digital (done well), was quite good; at times reminding me of something one of the Scott brothers (Ridley and Tony) might’ve have ‘lensed’. If you like gritty, violent military action films like Black Hawk Down or games like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare…this’ll be your cup of tea. Just cram your fingers in your ears anytime a military non-actor…tries to act. “Frag out!!!”

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