“An Act of Valor” — A Film Review by Gary Chew
That famous WWII quote of President Roosevelt’s, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself,” has taken on a permutation of late which you’ve probably heard. It goes something like, “The only thing they have is fear itself.” This new twist of the phrase seems like it fits and offers a good way to start a few thoughts about a new film:
“Act of Valor” not only doesn’t just have fear itself because it has so much more going for it than fear itself. Yes, plenty of fear and lots of fuzzy conflation that characterizes the bad guys in the narrative, although the truly remarkable and honorable acts of American valor depicted are based on real events, and should make an American proud.
It’s difficult to say, though, how much license was taken by screenwriter, Kurt Johnstad. Mr. Johnstad also wrote scripts for three other films you may remember: ”True Vengeance,” “The Fear Inside,” “300” and “300: Battle of Artemisia,” yet to be released.
“Act of Valor’s” story is simple. An elite team of Navy SEALS goes on a covert mission to rescue a CIA agent who’s partner has been killed and she is being brutally tortured by her kidnappers for information.
The killers and kidnappers evolve into a cadre or, I should say, a conglomeration of Russian crooks, Russian jihadists, Mexican drug runners and various evil-looking, dark-skinned poor people who don’t speak much English and get their bloody brains spattered on the wall behind them as the crack shooting SEALS take them out.
The only rich bad guy in the bunch is a intellectual-looking left wing Jew with long icky hair who wears tiny wire-rimmed glasses, if you know what I mean. He collaborates with a Russian jihadist who has a goatee and wears a cap that looks much like one Vladimir Lenin is usually pictured wearing.
After retrieving the woman, the SEALS discover that the CIA operatives were onto something exceedingly ominous: attacks on the US by an array of militants in many places and of several backgrounds. Some of the weaponry set for use is meticulously detailed to heighten the film’s fear factor. Eventually, “Act of Valor” shows the weapon’s effectiveness so the audience fully appreciates how deadly the devices can be when used on unsuspecting innocent victims, especially in sporting events crowds.
The almost constantly occurring well-filmed assaults happen in several well-identified locales. The film’s showdown occurs in a border tunnel that snakes its way from Mexico to the US.
This might be a more exciting part of the film for moviegoers in Texas, Arizona and Southern California.
I recognized no actor in the movie, except for the woman who plays the kidnapped CIA agent. Her name is Roselyn Sanchez, a cast member in the television series, “Without a Trace.”
Moreover, it was difficult distinguishing most of the male US military personnel from one another since most had chiseled Clark Kent type faces with the Kirk Douglas jaw. This includes the authentic Navy SEALS in the film and the actors who play the leading roles.
“Act of Valor’s” acting is B to B plus, but other values needed for a good movie are totally in tact.
Motion, sound and action are first rate. The editing and clearly displayed graphics snap. The music is up town and escapes the speakers at just the right moments for the peerless punching of emotion buttons. The film really moves. That would be in a couple ways, by the way. All of that better part of “Act of Valor” is as good as any other movie I’ve seen recently.
As the film begins, the narrator reads a quote that includes a phrase which forecasts the tilt of the movie. It goes something like this, “I knew that the worst thing about a man aging into an old man is that other people will know that he is now not dangerous.”
That should give you an idea if “Act of Valor” is something to see, especially for young, impressionable males to see.
Our nation’s military personnel who must do what’s depicted in this film are owed a debt of gratitude that none of us can fully repay since our security is paramount. But still, so energizing those inclined to pursue adventure and glory, even if most of their feelings obtain from a sincere love of country, it’s surely a wise thought to keep in mind that revenge isn’t something that ought be sought.
When General Sherman said that war is hell, he likely meant that it’s hell for both sides doing the fighting—the winner notwithstanding.
You’ll see a lot of well-crafted hell in “Act of Valor.”