Act of Valor (2012)
“The only easy day was yesterday.”
Director: Mouse McCoy, Scott Waugh
Cast: Alex Veadov, Roselyn Sanchez, Nestor Serrano
Synopsis: An elite team of Navy SEALs embark on a covert mission to recover a kidnapped CIA agent.
I’m not quite sure why the producers of Act of Valor felt it would be enhanced by casting real Navy SEALS in the parts of their on-screen counterparts. It was certainly a risky move, given the fact that the quality of their acting was never going to come up to the standards of a professional actor. As it happens, the two male leads, while no Oliviers, aren’t exactly terrible either, largely because the script doesn’t call on them to portray much emotion. They have a few moments of solemn contemplation after an operation in which one of their own is badly wounded, exchange a few lame lines of banter, but that’s about it. It’s novelty casting at best, adding a small measure of curiosity value, but that’s about it.
The plot follows the Navy SEALS as they attempt to rescue a female agent who has been kidnapped by a drug smuggler who is also involved with an Islamic terrorist organisation. They track the hostage to a hideout deep in the jungle, and it’s at this point that the movie comes alive — which is just as well because prior to this moment it had been a fairly dispiriting collection of bonding scenes over which a narration extolling the virtues of home, family and honour is delivered in a gruff monotone. The ferocious intensity of these action sequences really sets this movie apart from similar war movies, and makes it worth sitting through the sometimes clunky expositional scenes. Shane Hurlbut’s cinematography is also exemplary.
Between the action scenes, however, Act of Valor remains stubbornly ordinary, despite hitting on the idea of having a crack military unit lock horns with the members of a drugs cartel who outnumber the soldiers by about eight to one. Although many of the incidents that take place onscreen are apparently recreations of actual events from real missions, the movie plays like one of those old propaganda movies the Hollywood studios used to churn out during the height of WWII. John Wayne in his prime really wouldn’t have looked out of place in this flick.