Wednesday, September 12, 2012
Movie Review: Act of Valor
After a Muslim terrorist blows up a school in the Philippines, he aims for a bigger target: America. He enlists the help of a childhood friend who is now a smuggler, and begins putting his plans in place. Meanwhile, a team of Navy SEALS must plunge into a Costa Rican jungle to rescue a kidnapped CIA operative. Once that dangerous and explosive mission is completed, they learn enough about the terrorist’s plans to begin hunting him down and working to stop his planned attacks on America.
Film critic Christian Toto had this to say regarding one of the most notable things about Act of Valor: After years of seeing films treating American soldiers as mercenaries, thugs or much, much worse, we witness another side of the modern warrior. These SEALs are smart, self-effacing and brave beyond measure. Their personal sacrifices alone make them worthy of our respect and admiration. The film stands out in a sea of morally conflicted war movies where the enemy is given the benefit of the doubt, not the soldiers.
The fair view of the U.S. military is not the only thing that makes this film stand out. Some of the action sequences are brilliantly executed. The film goes for realism rather than a lot of special effects, and this authentic feel helps the film. Most of the actors are active duty Navy SEALS, so their unpolished but fully competent acting further adds to the authentic feel. However, the story and characterizations are for the most part just adequate, and this holds the film back a bit. Overall, Act of Valor is a solid action film that will leave you thinking about heroism and the threats that America and the world faces.
Despite the R-rating, the violence in this film was generally on the level of a PG-13 movie. It was slightly more bloody in some scenes, such as the occasional headshot, but the filmmakers wisely chose not to focus on the violence. The foul language, consisting of around ten “f” words, about twice that of other swear words, and two blasphemies, was also on the mild side for the rating--which is one of the reasons why I rarely watch R-rated movies. The rest of the content is truly mild: A bit of immodesty and a villain referencing past lovers. The restraint of this film regarding content is unusual for Hollywood, though I wish they had shown a bit more restraint with the swearing.
(c) 2012 Jonathan Garner