Navy SEALs grace big screen

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






“Act of Valor” is a realistic and fresh view of the war movie genre. Using real Navy SEALs (Sea, Air, Land), spectacular cinematography, and a meticulous portrayal of tactical technology, this film directed by Scott Waugh and Mike McCoy boosts the known styles used to portray modern conflict in film.

Other contemporary war films have utilized active duty military personnel for the sake of realism; Paul Greengrass’s “Green Zone” used Matt Damon as the lead role but cast actual soldiers between tours to Iraq for the men in his team. HBO’s “Generation Kill” had Rudy Reyes playing himself as the “fruity” apex Recon Marine.

But “Act of Valor” has the elite of the elite – America’s toughest razor-edge human weapons, the SEALs. Just getting these special forces gurus in between their actual forward deployments made the filming portion last over two years, according to Waugh. Much of the equipment featured in the film is accurate and some of the battle scenes were shot using live ammunition to blast vehicles and dazzle the screen with tracer fire.

The story is simple and complex at the same time. Two CIA agents (Nestor Serrano and Roselyn Sanchez) are compromised in Costa Rica while on a mission to link a gun smuggler named Christo (Alex Veadov) with a Chechen jihadi (Jason Cottle) bent on shedding American blood.

This scene is just as hard-wired as the rest of the movie, and shows how brutally isolated many intelligence personnel are. It also reveals the mythical stereotype that CIA agents are one-man armies; when Serrano’s character answers the door for a Chinese food delivery, his head is blown off while Sanchez is overpowered by her abductors. Then the real-world cavalry rolls into action when the SEALs get briefed for the rescue mission.

A wider plot to implant suicide bombers in America is discovered, and follow-on missions see the team pulling reconnaissance duties and raids in Somalia before confronting drug cartels and Filipino terrorists on the US/Mexico border.

Much of the cinematography is in a documentary style familiar to films like “Saving Private Ryan.” Other shots range from indoor helmet-cam views to grand, sweeping, helicopter-borne angles. All of it is breathtaking to watch; the visual element is a work of art and is probably the movie’s strongest suit.

But amid the impeccable portrayal of real-world missions and techniques, some may find the lighter scenes a bit disconcerting because of the acting. It must be noted that the SEALs train to kill, not act. This being said, some of the dialogue scenes, like one in a California bar between the Chief and Lieutenant concerning family life, seem contrived and unnatural.

“The acting was okay, but it wasn’t the best,” said Kevin Ford after watching the movie. “They were real Navy SEALs, though, so I think they did a pretty good job.”

While these scenes are necessary in humanizing certain elements of the characters, they are so few and far between that it doesn’t detract from the film much at all. As soon as the professional warriors snap into their gun-sights, put sniper rounds through sentry skulls, glide underwater in scuba gear, drop from the sky in HALO (High Altitude Low Opening) jumps or deploy model-airplane-like UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles), it becomes quite obvious that the men aren’t acting at all, but doing as they always do.

“I can overlook it,” said audience member Jeremy Hawkins about the meager dialogue scenes. “At times you could tell it was scripted, but for the most part it was good.”

“If real life is anything close to that,” he said of the action, “then those guys are pretty serious.”

“Act of Valor” is one of the most honest portrayals of what some of America’s elite warriors are faced with, and more complexly, the secretive scenarios that America is threatened with regularly. The mixture of real-world personnel, gorgeous camera-work and skillful editing make this film an instant classic among top portrayals of searing conflict.