Thursday, June 6, 2013

Film Review: Act of Valor (2012)

Act of Valor (Review)
United States/2012
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

A terrorist attack at an international school in the Philippines kills a U.S. ambassador, his son, and dozens of young students. The Chechen terrorist, Abu Shabal, successfully escapes. Meanwhile, two CIA operatives investigating a high-level smuggler, Christo, are attacked; one is murdered and Lisa Morales is kidnapped.

In comes Seal Team Seven. Lt. Rorke has told Chief Dave that his wife is pregnant and wants to bring the entire team and their families together before their next deployment. Rorke and Dave are close friends and share the same love for family - Dave has 5 children of his own. Eventually, they say their goodbyes and head out to Costa Rica to rescue Morales. At that time, they find information that brings them deeper into a terrorist plot of massive proportions.

Act of Valor has a cliché, predictable story. I've seen this film many times before, and could guess the ending from the beginning monologues. The characters lack personality, and most of the team rarely speak - it introduces seven seals that are never developed, and the two that are focused on somehow manage to feel hollow anyway. If you're looking for a deep, emotional, or character-driven war film, look elsewhere, as these elements are nonexistent. Nonetheless, the action sequences are intense and exciting - it's over-the-top, unbelievable action that is greatly choreographed. Story-wise, there isn't much to discuss. Several super-soldiers dodge death dozens of times, at several international locations, and save the day.

Aside from the cliché plot, the story's other significant offenses are the horrendous acting and delivery, the bland writing, and terrible dialogue. Using real Navy Seals was a mistake. The dialogue delivery from both leads is terrible, coming off as unnatural and robotic. They further bring down the movie with their charismatic-less performances and the lack of chemistry between the two close "friends" - they speak to each other like they just met. The performances from the Seals are very cringe-worthy, especially during normal conversations. The fact that they're active duty Seals doesn't excuse the acting; I cannot simple forgive it or excuse it, it's a movie and the acting is significant. (I love our troops, by the way, but if you can't act, you can't act.)

The writing is simplistic and repetitive. It's very easy to follow, and very predictable. The dialogue between the two leads consists of them mentioning how Rorke will be a father soon - every other sentence - and it is ultimately drilled into your head so you can guess how it will
end. The writing completely ignores both the characters and the complicated subject of warfare. The film is shot well, the music is also well-fitted.

Overall, Act of Valor has a bland story, cliché writing, and horrendous acting. The action sequences are exceptional, but are not enough to redeem the film's significant offenses. Basically, Act of Valor may as well be called Call of Duty: The Movie. (for those that know about video games.) I recommend a stream or rental depending on how much you like action.

Score: 4/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and blood, and implied torture.

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