If you want to attract an honorable lady, be an honorable man.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Act of Valor: Review

Wow. I must say, this movie impressed me to say the least. It made it to my favorites list certainly, but it didn't go there without some reservations mentally. There are some things I love about it, and there are some other things I wasn't so crazy about. Not by any means a perfect movie, but a far cry above most war movies, or over most movies period.

Let's get down to it.

Act of Valor is about Seal Team 7. Literally. The "Seal Team" in the movie, is in actuality Seal Team 7. The main actors are real Seals, doing real Seal things, adding a dimension of reality that no other move has ever had. These guys know what they are doing, and it is made very obvious through the movie that they aren't your average actors swinging around machine guns Rambo-style. These guys are the real deal.

The story line is very simple, but intense to say the least. After an undercover CIA agent was captured and disappears, its up to the Seals to find her. (Yes, her. Don't get me started now.)
Upon recovery of the agent, the leaders of the Seal team realize they have stumbled upon something bigger than they thought. The reason the agent was abducted was because she was working on discovering a possible connection between a undercover drug dealer housed in Costa Rica and a Muslim terrorist in the Middle East - Abu Shabal. Things only get worse when they find out that the dealer, "Christo" isn't really a dealer - he's a smuggler. He knows how to get things past checkpoints without anybody knowing what's going through - until its too late.

Act of Valor: The Real SEALs

The Seals follow the steps of these two men and discover a plot like no other. Christo has invented a vest that contains 500 ceramic ball-bearings, filled with explosive gel. Upon detonation of the vest, the bearings fly in all directions, wreaking havoc and mayhem, then explode, creating a terrorist weapon like no other. Its able to sneak past metal detectors, and is thin enough to wear under a coat without observation. Shabal the Muslim wants to kill Americans, and Christo knows how. Together, they are plotting to send suicide bombers to every big city in America to destroy the country from the inside out.

The seals travel to Africa, Costa Rica, and eventually the climactic showdown comes in an old milk factory in Mexico used as a hub for drug dealers and smugglers to access underground tunnels to sneak into the U.S. Eight vest-wearers and Shabal himself are headed to the tunnels and must be stopped at all costs. Drug cartels verses Navy Seals.


First off, one thing stands clear and bold out of this movie. These guys are real. They know what they are doing, and are good at it too. They adapt to any situation, and get the mission accomplished. Period. These aren't cheesy actors playing Rambo.

Next thing, is not near as obvious unless you happen to have seen some behind the scenes trailers.

The Seals aren't firing blanks.

Yessir, they are throwing live ammo downrange, and sometimes right over the heads of the cameramen.
There is a scene where a boat comes sweeping in on the scene of a fight, riddling the bad-guys, and the cameras perspective is downrange, looking from the bad-guys perspective.

 Yes, they were mowing real cars to bits with a Gatling gun right over the head of the camera guys. The Seals were firing real rounds around the camera guys, the camera guys doing their best just to merely stay out of the way. In one "behind the scenes" clip, the director of filming was talking about when he first heard they were using live rounds. He was blown away, and not a small amount rather scared.  Thinking about the safety of the filming team, he asked the Seals, "What about ricochets and such?"
They unconcernedly and mildly told him they would provide him with a flack jacket and helmet.

So these guys knew what they were doing.

Another thing, is that the explosions aren't CG. All of the explosions and such in the movie are real as well. They really blew up cars and set off bombs in old building making for a movie like no other. I was simply "blown away" by the "effects" that weren't really effects. Jaw dropping.


These guys are playing for reals. 

The next thing that stuck out to me is that, unlike a LOT of films, there is no blurring of the lines between good-guys and bad-guys. The Good guys are guys trying to serve their country and protect it, the bad guys are trying to kill people, and its up to the good guys to stop it. No "Bad-guys-are-bad,-but-have-a-slight favorable-quality-over-the-good-guys". Nope, they are bad as all get-out.
The bad guys are Muslims, and the political-uncorrectness of the movie impressed me. The bad guys really do the things Muslims do in warfare. I'm going to make a rather strong statement here, but its true. 
The Muslims in the movie fight like cowards. The movie portrays them as cowards, and it is a horrifically accurate portrayal.
Muslims, in real life, are cowards.
Yes, its a strong statement, but I'll stick to it. 
They make car bombs with women in the car. They place women holding guns to stop the Seals so they can get away. They have no qualms blowing up children so they can take out one Senator in the bunch. They place women bombs in places to ambush the Seals so they can escape in peace, but assure one lady bomber, "Don't worry, you will see your husband in Heaven."    
It makes me angry just talking about it. Everything manly in me was wanting to strangle these cowards who sacrifice the safety of others, women no less, so they can escape. 
In one scene the Seals had to shoot a crying lady who was shooting at them, ordered to do so by Shabal. In another, they stumble upon a women, crying again, holding a detonator in her hand. They dive behind cover just in time to avoid the ravaging affects of the vest she was wearing. 
The saddest part about the whole thing, is that it is real. Real Muslims out there use real ladies as bombs regularly.
Folks, ladies should be treasured, honored, protected, and valued. Not placed as living land mines so the men who don't have the guts to face the enemy can tuck their tail between their legs and run. We as Christian men need to treat women as the precious things they are, and stand against this blatant evil.   

Sorry, I digress. *sigh*
That sorta thing always gets me worked up. 

Back to the movie. 

Another thing I like, is that the men are portraying real men, with real families. No obnoxious girl-friends who  are the latest chick in town. These men are loyal to their wives and families, and are always trying to back home to them.


Right before they head out on their mission, the captain tells his men, "Get everything squared away here at home before we head out. If their is a problem in the family, fix it. If there is a problem in the finances, fix it. When we get out there we want our minds totally on the mission and not regretting what we didn't do or should have done at home."
Paraphrased of course.     

I liked that element a lot. 

Excellent leadership. In one scene the captain jumps on a grenade to safe his squad. The ultimate sacrifice of ones self to save his friends. He dies for it, and never gets to see his unborn baby at home.  

That's what Courage is though. Doing what needs to be done, despite the consequences.

One more very neat element, that you don't appreciate till near the end, is that for tiny bits of the movie, the main character narrates and tells a bit about the people who are in the Seal team, about the Seals a bit, and about honor, living by a code, and doing what's right, with no fear of death or other consequences. The neat part about that, despite the annoying trying-to-live-life-by-morals-that-has-no-real-basis speech, you realize at the end, all the narrating was the main character telling the story in a letter to the son of the man who died and never got to see his son. That part stood out to me. He was passing down the stories of the father to the son, when the father wasn't there to do it himself.
I really liked that - a lot.

There is one scene I had to look away from. Christo is on his private boat on the ocean, and his "girls" are around. You see some girls wearing a whole lot less than they should, serving a drink to Christo. Fortunately I can use peripheral vision to follow what is happening while looking at the opposite edge of the screen. Annoying that they would put that aspect of the crooks life on the big screen for you to see.
One glimpse of a soldiers wife in a bikini top on the beach. It is in the background, and you only see it for a moment, but it still is there.

The worldview isn't all that bad - except for the fact that it is just moralisms. It talks about living by a code, and how honor, and respect, and not being afraid of dying are everything. The worldview of the movie is so subtle, its hard to tell that it is even the actual worldview. It might not have even been the whole message. It might have been merely "good always triumphs over evil". Like I said, kinda slippery there, but its kinda unsure, so I rated it here in the cons.   

Cussing, of course. *sigh*. Fortunately, the bad guys actually use more than the Seals, so it is portrayed that the Seals are a little cleaner verbally and morally than the crooks. Of course the Seals do cuss, but it isn't as bad.

One other thing is there is a torture scene where the crooks are trying to get the agent to talk. You never actually see it, but you see her face and hear her screaming as it is going on. Could be quite unsettling and horrifying to some. 

That scene got to me as well, as a guy. The man in me wanted to jump up, shoot the guy, and take her home where she was safe, but I couldn't, and was forced to be content about dreaming of shooting him. Women are to be protected, and seeing that was hard. 

Overall, I rate the movie 4 stars. The action, story, and characters were incredible, the graphics and "effects" that weren't really effects were simply stunning, and the action scenes were minutely accurate to reality. Worldview was a little screwy, but it wasn't in your face. 
The only reason it isn't five stars is because of the scenes of the girls, and the cussing. I could work around the torture scene. I would recommend it only if you can guard your eyes on that one scene, and can stand graphic violence and action. 


  1. Wow. I really like the sound of this movie. I think my Dad and brothers would appreciate the realism, since I can't count how many movies I've had to sit through and listen to endless statements of "He must have ran out of bullets by now" and "That would not have exploded like that".

    Thanks for this review! It was very good, I might look it up. Also thankyou for being so openly passionate about the protection of women and children. It makes me proud to hear my brothers in Christ are standing up boldly for what is right. :)

  2. 1. Interesting review.
    2. Hollywood is finding out that their methods of breaking down morality have to stop at some point, or the country will cave in on them.
    3. They found out that this kind of thing sells better.
    4. If God doesn't define goodness and badness, who cares?
    5. Right. Even if she is a girl who shouldn't be in the CIA, we still save her.
    6. I'm glad I wasn't a cameraman in the movie.
    7. Frankly, we should make a similar movie about CIA agents, Russian agents, Venezuelan drug lords, and Iran Shiites trying to take over Washington, and then ALERT, Team Bradrick, Navy Seals and the Marines stopping them.
    Now that's a movie!

    8. I might watch the movie sometime, since you recommended it. Thanks for the tip!
    Bonus #9. Keep posting!

  3. Aww, I almost cried when I read that the captain died :( Yes, I know it's a movie...but still. This sounds like a movie my dad would love, though it's not really my thing :P {gimme a good chick-flick} ;) That is so cool that they used actual SEALS! It kind of annoys me when I see actors playing military...and...it just looks sort of fake, you know? Thanks for the review, I'll let my dad know about this! :)

  4. Great review. I'm glad you enjoyed this one! I love a good war film (Saving Private Ryan and Black Hawk Down are both favorites) so watching Act Of Valor was a treat. The script could've used some work, and the worldview was, as you say, a little screwy, but overall, the film was a welcome departure from the military-bashing that regularly goes on in Hollywood.

    If you're interested, you can read my thoughts on it here:

    And since we're on the subject of war movies, I've got to recommend The Lost Battalion (2001). It's stellar. There's a fair bit of graphic violence, but there's no sexual content/nudity and language is almost non-existent.

  5. Wow. That sounds like an amazing movie.
    I wouldn't watch it myself, just because I cannot stand to helplessly watch people being blown up and/or put into horrid situations and things like that. Things like that tear me apart. :(
    From your review though, I'm sure it would be a movie my Daddy would like to watch.
    Great review, David. Thanks for sharing. :)

  6. I would really like to see this movie...but I have one question--how bad is the swearing? Being as it is a modern war movie made by real military men the fact that it has cussing in it is a given. I just want to know if how much of it's in there.

    By the way, that is awesome that they used live rounds and real explosions! It would also be somewhat terrifing on set!

    Thanks for the review.

  7. @ Racheal
    I was surprised honestly. I have seen movies like We Were Soldiers, and such like that, and I would say it is less than that. There are scenes of tense action, and in the moment a word slips out here or there. In fact, I would say the crook cuss worse than the Seals.
    I would rate it slightly over Master and Commander on cussing, and under We Were Soldiers. My dad (him and I went to see it together) was honestly surprised at the lack of language, compared to some war films. I haven't seen that many, but this certainly wasn't the worst.
    If you have a word blocker, it cuts then all out wonderfully. :) ( we do )

  8. @ Corey.
    I read your review, and it was that that convinced me I wanted to see it. Thanks heartily.
    Keep up the good posts.

  9. @ Bushmaid, Trinka, and Sadie.
    YES, get your male relations to go see it (all of that being said if they can guard their eyes). If it wasn't for that scene, I would say every guy in America should see it, its that good.
    And yes, the fight scenes with real bullets and explosions are AWESOME.

  10. @ Pinecone.
    Through a few cowboys on their horses and rednecks toting all their guns and slang and now were talking one serious movie! Bring it on!

    1. That was supposed to say "Throw", not "through". Grrrrr.....

  11. I so want to see this!! But, I will definitely have to wait until you all get it so you can hit fast forward at that torture scene. I would NOT do good with that!!

    David, I am so grateful for your protection of women. I'm so glad you're our "brother" and that we can always feel so safe when you're around!!!

  12. The slang got 'em.
    Actually guys with Celt brogue would scare 'em off better...
    (had to stick you with that one)

  13. What slang got 'em? Sorry, but I seem to have missed the punch! :P


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