Act of Valor

The effectiveness of a movie trailer is a truly subtle aspect in the success of a film. Sometimes the trailer will show pieces of the film that are appealing to the public, but upon viewing are largely irrelevant in the context of the film. Then there are trailers that successfully show the audience what is at the core of the film and why you should see it. The Act of Valor trailer shows amazing action scenes, Navy SEAL actors and a promise of American pride. While this may have left some skeptical about the quality of the film (myself included), it does succeed in showing you everything you need to know.


Based on actual events, Act of Valor follows a group of Navy SEALs called upon to save the life of a captured CIA agent, neutralize a Russian smuggler and thwart a nefarious terrorist plot at the U.S.-Mexico border. Along the way the audience is introduced to the families of the SEALs and given an insight into their lives while on a tour of duty.

The biggest concern, for me at least, was how an active group of Navy SEALs would do trying to keep a movie interesting between action scenes and help support the plot. Since there was never any doubt that the action scenes would be of the highest quality, the rest of the hype was left on their shoulders to push their way through the before-battle and after-battle moments. For the most part, they did enough to keep Valor afloat until the combat begins (there is minimal time after). No performances are especially bad or noticeable below the rest, but there is an inescapable and palpable disinterest in the non-war scenes. The scenes upon returning home focus more on swelling your American pride, than having them act.

Once the acting is taken care of, Valor focuses on military accuracy and up-to-date lingo and technologies.  The combat scenes are, as can be expected, well executed and produce a fair amount of intensity that keeps your heart pounding and provokes a need to stay as still as possible for the sake of the men on-screen. There is a lot of Call of Duty-style camera work and fighting, which gives video game players an idea of how the game missions are produced.

Speaking of camera work, I hope you don’t suffer from motion sickness. If you thought the Bourne trilogy had shaky camera work, you will be in for a real treat with Valor. This can largely be attributed to the fact that most of the film is shot digitally on a Canon, but it doesn’t forgive the nausea created during crucial scenes. The camera is definitely the most glaring flaw of Valor because of how often it removes you from a scene and takes away from what is occurring on-screen.

The entire film plays out similarly to every military commercial you have seen on television. Continuing its predictable trend, Valor finishes with a strong call for patriotic pride and support for the troops. Ultimately, Valor delivers everything you expect with a little extra helping of quality – and a ton of what it takes to be a “real man”. If you’re able to survive the camera – and most important, you enjoy war films – then you’ll most likely be pleasantly surprised with Act of Valor. Otherwise, you can find a half-dozen other war films that’ll better satisfy your tastes.

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