The U.S. Navy should slash its recruiting budget and just schedule screenings of “Act of Valor.”
Hollywood meets propaganda in this rah-rah action film about an elite group of Navy Seals who circle the globe battling terrorism.
(Made with the full cooperation and participation of the Navy, this independent film was picked up for distribution by Relativity Media shortly after a small crew of Navy Seals earned worldwide headlines after killing Osama bin Laden in Pakistan last May.)
“Valor” stars real-life, active-duty Seals -- the Wall Street Journal reports that, per government regulations, they received no additional pay for their acting -- intermixed with a sprinkling of professional actors, including Roselyn Sanchez and Nestor Serrano.
Sanchez plays a CIA operative kidnapped on foreign soil by a powerful illegal arms dealer. Heading off to rescue her, after first bidding goodbye to wives, girlfriends and children, the Seals learn there’s a linked plot involving a jihadist and suicide bombers. The Seals swing into action -- lots and lots of action.
As directed by feature first-timers Mike “Mouse” McCoy and Scott Waugh and written by Kurt Johnstad (“300”), “Valor” hits all the expected beats for a blow-‘em-up film. It flits from one exotic location to the next, powerful weapons are fired, and there are speedy vehicular chases and mighty explosions, both on land and on water.
The only thing missing is a cynical, wise-cracking, buffer than buff action hero along the lines of Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis (who already played a Navy Seal commander in “Tears of the Sun”) or Nicolas Cage. Instead, we get real Navy Seals as stars -- the two leads are billed only as Lieutenant Commander Rorke and Special Warfare Operator Chief Dave -- who give performances that are, to put it diplomatically, longer on modesty and soldierly competence than charisma.
For action fans, the film delivers action. Beyond that, not so much.
And here’s the really confusing part: if the situation with terrorists is as dire in real life as depicted here, with bloodthirsty enemies of the U.S. lurking everywhere, then what the heck are real Navy Seals doing wasting even a minute of their time making “Valor” rather than getting out there in real life and stopping the bad guys?