Cooper: “Act of Valor” review

Act of Valor

By Elise Cooper  *  February 24, 2012

Watch out, Arnold — the real-life action heroes are here.  Act of Valor, to be released on February 24, stars current active-duty SEALs.  Besides being action-packed, anyone who believes that movies should be realistic and not necessarily politically correct should see Act of Valor.  In addition to reviewing the movie, American Thinker interviewed those associated with the film.

Right from the start, the movie is very intense.  Mike “Mouse” McCoy and Scott Waugh, who directed and are executives of the production company, Bandito Brothers, wanted to make the first authentic action film.  They cast eight SEALs to make sure their characteristics came across so that people can understand the difficulty of their missions, and how they risk their lives without any public recognition.  Although they prefer to be known as the “silent warriors,” the eight SEALs decided to star in the movie to make sure their stories are accurately presented.  Waugh commented that each SEAL cast member had multiple deployments and was highly decorated.  For realism, they all were involved in the operational planning of the movie.  “They would take out a white board and plan it like a mission.”

The electrifying story begins in the Philippines, where the SEALs are assigned a mission to rescue a CIA operative captured by a drug cartel.  From the intelligence gathered, a plot is discovered that teams Islamic jihadists with the drug cartel to sneak suicide bombers across the Mexican border and into the U.S.  McCoy made sure that all the missions in the film have actually happened in some form, including the horrific torture scene.  He wanted to show that “the way those held captive overseas are tortured is mind-boggling.  We felt that we pushed it as far as was graphically possible.  There are really bad people who do really bad things.”  Chris Kyle, a former SEAL who wrote the book American Sniper, was able to “relate to several of the missions.  It was an emotional movie for me.  The audience will definitely get an idea on the type of missions we are assigned to do.”

The technology and the tactics in the movie, from the small “Raven” drone to the SEALs jumping out of helicopters onto raft boats, are incredibly insightful.  There is one scene that shows the latest in suicide vest apparel, being made of explosive gel.  McCoy noted, “The tactics, techniques, and procedures had to be approved by the Department of Navy.  The bad people out there are creative, so we did not want to give anything away.  The DOD did not have any input regarding the plot.”

The acting in the movie is at best average.  This should not come as any surprise since the stars are not professional actors.  At times the acting was very stiff, and it felt like the lines were being read.  What the SEALs did do best were the action scenes, but that is also not a surprise since in many circumstances they were not acting but in training mode.  Obviously these scenes were done in a condensed time frame since in real life there is a lot of waiting around.  As far as the dialogue, a civilian might think that it is unrealistic since it shows the SEALs laughing and joking right before a mission.  However, the SEAL recruits viewing the movie as well as Kyle attested to the fact that “we do crack up with each other and make jokes.  We are dealing with death on a daily basis, so the more we can laugh about it, the more we feel human.”

Those who know anything about some of the SEALs who sacrificed their lives for this country will appreciate how the movie honors them.  Kyle said it was very emotional for him when the movie referred fictitiously to the late SEAL Mike Monsoor and another SEAL, Doug Day, who “actually took seventeen gunshot wounds.  The enemy even shot his trigger hand so he went off hand and killed many of the enemy.”  These scenes as well as others are very powerful and emotional, and they will choke the audience up. 

Act of Valor is the way all action movies should be made.  The filmmakers set the bar high, since it tells it like it is: that the SEALs are truly incredible men who risk their lives to make sure Americans are safe.  They seem to perform at a superhero level, usually being severely outnumbered yet successfully accomplishing their mission.

The SEAL recruits said it best: “This film is awesome.”

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