Retrospective on “Act of Valor”

Saw Act of Valor last night, a film written by the same person who wrote 300 and acted in by real Navy SEALs And yes, that’s the extent of my very flimsy intro. I’m not really a film reviewer, so you should probably go elsewhere for a full rundown, but I think the most accurate review I’ve read comes from the Christian Science Monitor:

“The movie is essentially a series of reasonably good action sequences involving wipeouts with Filipino jihadists, Chechen rebels, and Mexican drug cartels interspersed with buddy-buddy badinage not of the first freshness. The bad guys, who specialize in funny beards, funny accents, and shaved heads, would feel right at home in an “Austin Powers” movie. Grade: C+”

Act of Valor

After the movie, I spoke with a friend about it who pretty much hated it, as much for its acting as for it’s duality (“here are the good guys, here are the bad guys, it’s very obvious who’s who, and there’s no conflict in that department”) and its mix of patrio-militarism. Not sure I agree with him on those points, though it’s more a matter of degrees than disagreement: I don’t think simplistic story lines are inherently bad in a film like this, and I see nothing wrong with some level of justified patriotic invocation, even in the context of militarism, where “patriotism” boils down to “America! We’re the good guys!” (The film deals with a tracking terrorist plot for an attack on the US.)

Note that the movie avoids ANY political discussion outside of “there are people out there looking to attack us, and there are people tasked with protecting us.” Not the kind of stuff you want to base your entire foreign policy around, but not the kind of stuff you want to ignore, either. (I’ll avoid here a conversation about military budgets because, frankly, that’s more thought than this film demands or expects. If anything, this film is all about the emotion.)

In any case, it’s not a terrible film. It’s just simplistic (“It’s a recruitment poster” is not an unfair charge), so safe as a background movie. An R-rated backgound movie, mostly for language and torture. It’s also not a great film, so don’t go in expecting high art that will arrest your attention for 90 minutes (though it has great cinematography) and have you thinking about its themes for days. Grade of C is about right.

My only real problem with the film? Not. Enough. Paperwork. Seriously, those guys did none. That is soooo fake.

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