Film Review: Act of Valour

Act of Valour functions as a propaganda video for the Navy SEALs. The dedication to realism at times takes precedence over the crucial need for an engaging story and characters.

When a CIA operative is kidnapped, a group of Navy SEALs are tasked with the mission to rescue her. What they find leads them to a terrorist plot. The same Navy SEALs must go on a mission to garner intelligence and foil the plot which threatens the lives of innocent citizens…

Filmed using real SEALs as the main cast, Act of Valour aims for realism in its depiction of combat sequences and military operations. In this function, the film is successful. These sequences do appear more authentic than those in other action films. Moreover, there is a real emphasis on preparation for attack, relying on strategy rather than just fire power.

This emphasis on realism comes at the expense of the narrative, however. The plot is fairly predictable, which would not be a problem in itself if the narrative was more engaging. Mike McCoy and Scott Waugh’s film lacks panache, every sequence others what you would expect, and little more. This is confounded by the fact that the main characters are one-dimensional. It is hard to summon the will to care with the minimal characterisation.

The staunchly pro-military, American pride theme that permeates the entire film will be a little off-putting for those viewers who do not share this mindset. The film is unequivocal in its support of military action, depicting Americans as the ones who take on terrorists and save the day. Act of Valour concentrates on pride, and offers the positive expression of military action without focusing on any other consequences of this.

Some of the dialogue is little more than exposition. The exchanges feel stilted, which is not helped by the actors. The SEALs who star in the film clearly do not have the acting training required for a big screen role. Elsewhere, Act of Valour is reminiscent of Michael Bay films, with its use of slow motion for dramatic effect.

Whilst the film should be praised for providing more authentic scenes featuring military action, the lack of attention paid to narrative and character concerns make Act of Valour ultimately unsatisfying.

Act of Valour is released on Blu-Ray and DVD on 16th July 2012.