So what did you think?
This is the one singular question most film critics are pitted into answering the moment after a press screening concludes, by our local press agents.
In my own experience I answer the inquisition with as much honesty as I can. Because lets be candid, no one wants to hear their movie is a heap of disposable trash (instead I typically utilize a smirk and continue on with my life).
However, I believe my response to the question after the Act of Valor screening last week was about as sincere and genuine as I could’ve replied.
I said to the press agent “I’ve never seen anything like it”. That’s it: Nothing more, nothing less.
And it’s true. I’ve never viewed anything like directors Mike McCloy and Scott Waugh’s newest film where they cast active duty U.S. Navy seals to star in a Hollywood bloated blood bath.
We open with the two filmmakers providing us with what can only be considered a behind the scenes prologue, where they describe how they produced the film and what every member of the audience should take into consideration while viewing the proceeding 101 long, long minutes.
Though, what initially appears to be an authentic look at military life quickly morphs into another typical bombastic action picture.
The narrative is based of the real missions of Valor. Whether what occurred within those missions is what’s shown in the film, is up for serious debate.
In Actor of Valor a group of Navy Seals are sent across the globe – ranging from Costa Rica to the African coast – on a covert mission to recover a kidnapped CIA agent. What seemingly appears to be your typical quick battle and pick up job escalates into numerous possible terrorist threats across the United States.
Most of these soldiers, now pinned in a do or die situation, have families back at home. In 2012 here is a concept every American citizen can understand and identify with. After being entangled in a meaningless war, this is perhaps the only bit of realism to be found in Act of Valor.
The rest, while filled with true potential, is ultimately squandered.
From the bland narration to the unfocused story, Act of Valor is the product you’d receive if one mixed a game of Call of duty team death match with a promotional ad to join the Army.
McCloy and Waugh say that this is the most “authentic” war movie ever created. But how could that be? Act of Valor glorifies warfare and the act of murdering enemies.
Sure, it casts legitimate Navy Seals. So? It then proceeds to plunge these officers into loaded superficial action affair.
A film like Oliver Stone’s Platoon is the true epitome of war – a film that encapsulates the senselessness of conflict, the hardships of army life, and the constant fear of death.
Act of Valor may be well intentioned, but that doesn’t excuse its offensive narrative. If a film wants to be entertainment fodder, then go ahead and embellish as you please. But it’s unfair to pronounce your film as a legitimate depiction of war, and then interject and project every trope of an overwrought action picture.