This visceral warfare action thriller cleaned up at the US box office, which is a tad worrying given that it is essentially an army recruitment film. What separates ‘Act of Valor’ from the myriad of ‘Rambo’-style combat movies is that its cast are active US elite Navy Seals. Yes, real-life soldiers, acting. But while the Seals’ involvement allows directors Mike McCoy and Scott Waugh to dress their film in a cloak of authenticity, at what cost, when the performances off the battlefield are so leaden?
In an attempt to weave a storyline around the Seals’ heroics, writer Kurt Johnstad has cooked up a predictably shallow scenario involving Mexican drug traffickers and a terrorist plot to blow up Americans. The combat sequences, though, are stunningly executed, unbelievably realistic and extraordinarily tense. Which makes you wonder why they didn’t just drop the drama crap and shoot it as an informational real-time documentary. Instead, ‘Act of Valor’ reeks of military-sanctioned exploitation drama aimed solely at the ‘Call of Duty’ set.