[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=8842[/img]Title: Act of Valor
Starring: Jason Cottle, Roselyn Sanchez, Alex Veadov
Directed by: Mike McCoy, Scott Waugh
Written by: Kurt Johnstad
Studio: Bandito Brothers
Runtime: 110 min
Blu-ray Release Date: June 5, 2012
HTS Overall Score: 73
Act of Valor defines its subject matter, terrorism, early on during a scene when Chechen terrorist Abu Shabal (Cottle) drives an ice-cream van onto the main courtyard of the International School of Manila when classes have just finished, parks it and walks away. The kids flush with excitement run over for a cold treat. To keep them huddled around the van a shaking scared girl doles out the scoops. When Shabal is out of harm’s way a hidden bomb in the van explodes wiping out the area. In a cool-guys-don’t-look-at-explosions manner Shabal keeps walking leaving the massacre in his wake.
In Costa Rico undercover CIA agent Lisa Morales (Roselyn) is kidnapped while staking out the whereabouts
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=8846[/img]of cocaine and arms smuggler Christo (Veadov). It’s believed Morales was taken, on Christo’s behest, because she was getting too close in discovering a link between Christo and Shabal. Morales’s kidnapping prompts an elite Navy SEALs team to assemble for a secret recovery mission. The extraction is nearly twenty minutes of jungle action involving watercraft, parachuting, under water tactics, the art of the stealth approach, and other methods used during actual rescue operations; it’s also a smorgasbord of precise technical jargon (going completely over my head, yet still interesting), and weapons display. The result is information revealed regarding Shabal’s plan of a multipoint attack on US soil - strapping sixteen untraceable vests lined with explosive gel-filled ceramic ball bearings to suicide bombers who will enter the US, disperse to predetermined high-populace areas and cause massive deaths and economic instability. The SEALs must now travel the globe to hunt down Shabal, Christo and the would-be-martyrs who will be donning the vests.
The scope of wanted destruction is pretty vast and in cases like this you have to figure the impending doom will not be realized because how to do you end a movie after sixteen suicide bombers take their lives in postcard spots in the US, plus what would it say about the capabilities of the respected SEALs? The bad guys are going to get a bullet through the head, it’s just a matter of time, and it’s that time leading up the victory that counts and has to provide the entertainment viewers are expecting; in that regard Act of Valor is semi-successful.
There is a lot of action in the movie and contained within the 110 minute running time there’s a wide
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=8844[/img]spectrum of combat situations. The variety of places the SEALs venture into and how they are able to adapt to each environment gives the viewer a sense of their diverse training. This is all demonstrated during a jungle car chase culminating in a group of watercraft with mounted miniguns firing at the enemies, riddling their vehicles with golf-sized holes. The overhead shot of the tracer rounds being fired did look spectacular and sort of made you want to in an exuberant manner yell out “YAH!” Infiltrating a terrorist compound frogman style and dodging baddies in shantytowns are a couple more examples. Throughout the action the SEALs show off their gear and guns and how their intense rigorous training has made them experts at handling an array of powerful tech. It’s all very nicely integrated into the action. Act of Valor many times resembles a first-person shooter when the camera shifts over to an over the barrel point of view. The point is to put you in the moment, but I found the effect nauseating and a step down from the other filming angles.
Family life, personal time and the camaraderie between the SEALs is also highlighted in the film. There are shots of families gathering before deployment, SEALs making calls to home from satellite phones and generic shots of the SEALs bonding over a campfire. The acting is very simple with dialogue in most cases delivered without emotion and in wooden fashion. This I suppose is the downfall of casting the key roles with non-actors. There’s also a running narrative by one of the SEALs that over time becomes intrusive and takes away from the experience. The character development is lacking which isn’t a surprise because the focus lies in what happens in the field of battle.
R for strong violence including some torture, and for language.
Act of Valor is laden heavily with a definitive, imposing and nearly ever present score that
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=8845[/img]through its volume, tempo and pace nudges the viewer to feel a certain emotion. There are sentimental slow orchestral numbers during family scenes and more familiar energetic numbers during times of preparation. There are no subtleties in the soundtrack; almost everything is loud and very evident.
Explosions reverberate even at mid volume and the sound of high caliber artillery being fired is very satisfying. Jungle scenes sound great with insects in the distance popping up from every speaker sporadically. Every sound is elevated to enhance the moment. Rotor blades utilize lots of low end bass that makes your chest vibrate. Quality directional effects are used during parachuting, gunfire exchange and explosions. The rear speakers get a lot of love pumping out the score and assisting with nearly every other aspect in the sound field. The soundtrack in Act of Valor constantly bombards you with some type of noise or sound.
Act of Valor has a noticeable glossy and polished finish. Appreciably there is little to no grain in
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=8844[/img]darker scenes. When SEALs enter dark rooms black levels rise quickly washing out images at times, but it gives an authentic look because things look dark when you enter an unlit room. Texture detail in the clothing and weapons the SEALs use is very high, along with the different environments the SEALs enter. Water reflections are crisp and shine and dense jungle foliage is natural looking. Colors in the daytime are vibrant and pop. Fireballs look gorgeous, sometimes encompassing large areas of the screen. Act of Valor because of its subject matter could have been purposefully made to look gritty, but sometimes this intentional look takes away from the pleasure of watching a movie so I’m glad that wasn’t the case here.
1. Deleted scenes
2. Director’ Intro
3. Interviews with Active Navy SEALs
4. Making of Act of Valor
5. Real Bullets
6. Real SEALs
7. Silent Warriors
8. “For You” Music Video by Keith Urban
9. Making of the Music Video
10. Director’ Commentary
11. Theatrical Trailer
When Act of Valor trailers hit the theaters and TV screens the marketing touted the film as
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=8847[/img]being cast with active-duty US Navy SEALs for a sense of true realism, unfortunately it doesn’t make any difference in the action department. Real SEAL or actor, the same precautions are taken when filming any instance involving the possibility of someone getting hurt. Act of Valor gives the viewer an idealistic look at what’s it’s like to be a SEAL without delving into the raw dirty aspects of being part of a covert elite team. Many people have stated that the movie is merely propaganda and an extended advertisement for the US Navy SEALs, of which I have no comment on, but there does seem to an air of bravado throughout that transfers into a sense of accomplishment if you actually join the US Navy.
Recommendation: Rent it!
Watch the Official Trailer
Watch the Official Trailer