Violence – check. Guns – check. Killer scenery – check. Originality? Not at all. The only exciting thing was the fact that the men starring in the film were not actors by trade but real active duty US Navy Seals. Which begs the question whether this was an actual attempt at a film or simply some kind of recruitment video to be used in a highschool or enlistment rally in the States.
Act of Valour begins with narration by ‘Chief’, the main character, as he writes a letter to an unknown person. His deep and husky voice makes the narration sound a lot like an advert for a really bad action movie, which, come to think of it, makes a lot of sense. The narration continues through the first third of the film then mysteriously disappears as the action starts to take place, after an onscreen description of each Seal as well as the number of tours they have done.
There is an obligatory (and frustratingly predictable) bonding scene in a dimly lit aeroplane before jumping out to start a mission. Including the regular banter, cheesy winks and smiles between the men with lines that were so devoid of anything that they shouldn’t have bothered. The scene looked like a rip off of the aeroplane scene in Predator only without Jesse Ventura’s hilarious lines.
The Seals then find themselves in gun battles with various extremists/terrorists and use high tech and real weaponry throughout the movie, as they attempt to stop thirteen people entering the USA to detonate explosive vests, smuggled in by Christo (Alex Veadov) and his Jihad-obsessed friend, Shabal (Jason Cottle.)
During many of the scenes when the Seal team are planning to storm a compound or take on the enemy, there is amazing footage of extensive landscapes and impressive shots of submarines surfacing and Black Hawks making the waves below choppy. There are effective camera effects, some shots starting behind the team from their point of view, then spinning to take the view of the terrorists headed towards them, but for the most part are not stable enough to prevent inducing a headache.
The only sentimental parts are those ‘based on real events’ (and that’s only after you have left the cinema, gone home and Googled). E.g. When ‘LT’ dives onto a grenade to save his team, it was in reference to Michael Monsoor’s posthumous Medal Of Honour awarded in 2006 while in Iraq. Unfortunately, while watching the movie it is very hard to feel anything about it because there is barely any character description or development beforehand.
The film is not female friendly, even for chicks who love their action movies. Every single female character is shown either pregnant at home or seated on a beach surrounded by kids, while the men stand apart from them and talk in gruff tones about shipping out. The only female character who seems to have any street smarts and attitude, Morales (Roselyn Sánchez), gets to make a few witty comments in a couple of scenes before she is bashed, rolled up in a carpet and subsequently tortured by a fat, greasy man until the Navy Seal team rescue her while she is tied to a bed.
Act Of Valour has everything you’d expect from a film that spends far too much time and money trying to make things look cool than on character development, decent plot or even delivering lines effectively. Add devout Muslims praying on a tarmac before they go to blow up stuff, dirty looking shirtless tattooed Mexicans, helpless women and anyone who isn’t American in the film living in squalor, it comes across as a little bigoted and clichéd. Watch it if you must, but don’t expect anything more than a film they are probably using to recruit more Navy personnel or actors thinking the way to Hollywood might be through the armed forces.
By C. Eden
Act of Valour opens nationally this Thursday, May 3rd 2012.