Act of Valor opens with a making-of featurette that explains how the actors playing Navy Seals aren’t really actors at all, but active duty Seals. This is meant to boost the emotion of what you’re about to see, making the tactics and operations seem more realistic – but all it really says is that you’re about to see some of the worst acting to ever appear on the big screen.
While the Seals may be real, the story they’re acting out isn’t. Act of Valor plays out like nothing more than a drawn-out live action video game – first person point-of-view camera shots and all. The story is contrived and convenient. While the action scenes work really well, the majority of the movie consists of overly dramatized material: a Seal saying goodbye to his pregnant wife prior to deployment, two buddies sharing their feelings right before entering combat, etc. Even the debriefing scenes are laughable – so bad, in fact, that they make the hammed-up debriefings in Top Gun seem realistic. I cannot express the fact that the acting destroys the movie enough. It’s literally that bad.
I understand why they cast real Seals in the film, but at the cost of sacrificing any and all emotion, it’s not worth it. The real shame is that not one thing in the movie couldn’t have been done just as well if not better by actors. You can train good actors to pull off the physical stuff, but you can’t train a Seal to act. Had the story portrayed been based on real military operations, it would be one thing. But the screenplay used is a standard action movie. Nothing else.
If the trailers for Act of Valor have given you the desire of watching a modern warfare movie, then do yourself a favor and watch one that’s actually good – Black Hawk Down. In every way that Act of Valor fails, Black Hawk Down succeeds. The acting is top notch, the story is real and accurate, the tactics are solid, the action is intense and it packs an emotional punch.
Photo credit: Relativity