Act of Valor Blu-ray Review
ACT OF VALOR is the Navy’s most blatant recruitment film since TOP GUN. This time however, the Navy isn’t even trying to be subtle. They’ve teamed up with Hollywood to make a movie featuring real Navy SEAL’s in roles that probably should have been filled with real actors. But that was their gimmick and in every trailer, TV spot and poster, American audiences were beaten over the head with the notion that ACT OF VALOR would feature real Navy SEALs in action. And even though I wasn’t excited about the idea of sitting through a two-hour recruitment film, I found myself enjoying it, despite its numerous problems.
The basis for the film is that a Navy SEAL team is called to rescue a captured CIA operative. Once rescued, they go on the hunt for a terrorist that’s trying to cross into the USA via Mexico. So the story is very linear, bouncing from locale to locale, each showing off a different aspect of a SEAL team. They jump out of airplanes, they repel down helicopters, they march through jungles and they swim, all of which are on display in the film. It’s during these scenes that ACT OF VALOR works well; this is where the soldiers excel and with some fast editing and strategic camera work, directors Mike McCoy and Scott Waugh got the most of the soldiers during the action scenes.
Imagine you were asked to write a screenplay for a film, but your lead characters would be played by soldiers with zero acting experience. It was a tough assignment, but Kurt Johnstad did well by putting most of the dialogue into the hands of the few real actors that appeared in the film and covering other plot points with narration. His tactics made up for some of the acting shortcomings of the soldiers, who when put to the test, didn’t deliver. But it’s hard to judge soldiers as actors; they were there because they were soldiers and they did well in the action/military scenes where they obviously felt more comfortable. Unfortunately, they struggled whenever there was a real dialogue exchange and those few moments were distracting for audiences as we felt at times we were watching a bad play at the local community theater.
There was a moment in the film where we watched one of the soldiers say goodbye to his pregnant wife and I was ready to write a long paragraph about how impressed I was with his wife’s acting ability, since I thought she was a real soldier’s wife. Of course, it turned out that she wasn’t a real soldier’s wife and instead, she was actress Ailsa Marshall. I point that out to say that you’re going to notice the difference between the soldiers and the actors.
In 1986, TOP GUN made everyone want to be a Navy pilot. But that was more due to Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer making an otherwise boring job look incredibly cool. ACT OF VALOR doesn’t make anything look cool, but rather it makes being a Navy SEAL look tough, giving non-military audiences an appreciation for what they go through. I’m not sure it was the desired outcome, but it made me glad I never joined the Navy, but thankful there are men and women out there brave and strong enough who did.
Video: The film has a Tony Scott-esque feel to it and with that means bright, bold colors and lots of sunsets. The Blu-ray looked fantastic.
Audio: The audio was also very well done.
Director’s Commentary: A very informative commentary that touches on the making of the film as well as how it was working with the Navy.
Deleted Scenes (9:23): Six deleted scenes that somewhat worth viewing.
Directors’ Intro (3:12): A short little bit about how the directors got involved with this film and where they wanted to take it.
Interviews with Active Duty Navy Seals (30:27): In this featurette we meet the seven soldiers from the film as they are interviewed about their journey in the military and eventually to film.
The Making of Act of Valor (5:26): A typical making of featurette that includes many clips from the film and behind-the-scenes snippets.
Real Bullets (2:13): This is about how this film was shot with live ammo-what?! That’s very uncommon.
Real Seals (2:32): Another short bit reinforcing to us that this is the real deal.
Silent Warriors (2:50): A featurette about some SEALS who weren’t in the film.
“For You” Music Video by Keith Urban
Making of the Music Video