Top

film

Stories

 

Honor, Courage, Commitment, Popcorn: Act of Valor Wants You

Act of Valor is, according to the opening titles, "based on real acts of valor," whatever that means. It stars real active-duty Navy SEALs, and, as the uniformed representative of the New York Coast Guard, 9th Regiment who introduced my screening explained, much of it was filmed with live-fire ammunition.

None of the above works to strengthen the muddled movie's dramatic narrative, but the film's boasted authenticity—including cameos from the latest in military hardware—and its closing dedication "to all the warriors headed downrange in the future" make clear the aim: This is the most lavish recruiting tool the armed forces have deployed to theaters in memory, besting that pre-movie commercial with the "freedom ain't so free" Kid Rock soundtrack a few years back.

The SEAL actors go uncredited, but at the center of Act of Valor are "Chief Dave" and "Lieutenant Commander Rorke," two minimally charismatic studs who compete to deliver lines in the deepest bass-baritone. (You can remember which is which only because one of them keeps a toothpick in the corner of his mouth.)

Details

Act of Valor
Directed by Mike McCoy and Scott Waugh
Relativity Media
Opens February 24

Related Stories

More About

After a suicide bombing at the International School in Jakarta, Dave, Rorke, and the cursorily introduced members of their team must deploy to the likes of Costa Rica, the Sudan, and Mexico to follow the border-hopping conspiracy of a jihadist network led by a Ukrainian-born convert to Islam, Abul Shabal (Jason Cottle), arranging to purchase the latest in suicide-bomb technology from his boyhood friend, an arms dealer (Alex Veadov).

Despite that setup, the villains come across as individuals rather more compellingly than do the film's ostensible heroes, mostly mouthpieces for warrior credo recited in voiceover ("No one is more dangerous than a man who can harness his emotions," etc.). This is the prose of 300 co-screenwriter Kurt Johnstad, again showing his obvious reverence for martial values, though this time without a mythological visual analogue. The workaday soldier's dialogue heard here has, one suspects, the same relation to the real thing as the network-television mic'd talk of football players does to an actual, unobserved huddle.

You might argue that individual faces don't matter here, as individuals aren't the heroes of Act of Valor so much as is the organization, the unit. But if this is an homage to teamwork, it's no great shakes at clarifying how a team works. The combat footage, meant to show the unit working in tandem, was shot in large part with helmet-mounted cameras, a POV familiar to the film's targeted demographic from tactical first-person-shooter video games. This obscures any broader understanding of physical relationships for an "immersive" cacophony of first-person perspectives: More than any cinematic precedent, Act of Valor most closely resembles the latest upgrade of America's Army, the multiplayer recruitment-drive game launched by the U.S. military in 2002.

The film's first set piece is the best, a personnel-recovery mission that breaks away into a parallel-action chase capped by a gunboat pulling around a bend in the river, mini-gun erupting, with the fanfare of arriving cavalry. But that basic tactical clarity otherwise escapes Act of Valor: It's all about you-are-there adrenaline injections, a string of jolts to work up an appetite for the real thing.

 
My Voice Nation Help
86 comments
Jonryan Torres
Jonryan Torres

I loved the movie, maybe they weren't the BEST actors but they did pretty good sinking me in. Some people are just LIKE that in combat operations...its kinda the way you are SUPPOSED to be, detached but focused. They did an amazing job with all of the action scenes and in all reality the story is not as far fetched as it seems to most who haven't been in the upper echelons of the military....just saying

Drsweet
Drsweet

Hi,I am impressed at your true ignorance associated with the military and its culture. Just because you do not understand something, does not mean it cannot be genuine. It may be best if you limited your future reviews to urban dramas.Surprised,Patrick Sweet, MDLT, MC, USN

Texasdivepro
Texasdivepro

Your rendition of the movie sounds like it's coming from a kid who never learned of true sacrifice. Being a retired combat savvy green beret and army ranger, I find you to be very unappreciative of the freedom many have died for to insure you get to spew garbage as you do. It takes all kinds to make America. You are welcome for the ability to print your misguided trash without fear of repurcussions. Try putting your computer down and pick up a weapon and be willing to make the ultimate sacrifice to insure you continue to enjoy your way of life before you attempt to trash those of us who do and have. Have a good day of freedom sir.

apophis gun
apophis gun

could anyone comment on what was the reasoning behind the "stargate sg-1" tv series, that employed active duty usaf personnel in uniform as extras, and had two successive usaf chiefs of staff playing themselves in cameos? about an invasion of reptilian-possessed humans flying monster pyramids? it was the most expensive and longest running scifi series in history, and was the favorite of the troops

this crossed the line from being entertainment of one stripe or another into state-sponsored futurism

or are there undercurrents to this disturbing tv series that angels would fear to tread in?

Angela
Angela

Honestly, anyone who can't admire and respect a human being who throws his body on a grenade to save his friends seriously needs to completely reevaluate their entire lives and everything they stand for. Whether or not all of America's wars are justified does not in the slightest bit infringe on the great heroism of America's heros, who are extremely great and brave, and put their lives on the line and do heroic things that I don't think I would have the courage to do. It is always best to admire greatness and nobility, such as Michael A. Monsoor. Maybe if we do, we would have a chance to actually be as noble.

Hutcherson
Hutcherson

"Act of Valor is, according to the opening titles, "based on real acts of valor," whatever that means.", says the guy who couldn't recognize a real man if he was being saved by one.

Dan Kersten
Dan Kersten

What a biased review, much of it probably prewritten by Mr. Pinkerton before seeing the movie. I have him figured out already. He despises the symbols of the U.S. military, feels a slight sympathy with those who oppose the U.S, is unimpressed by all things masculine because his father was a poor example or patriotic machismo, and voted for Obama (and plans to do so again), a radical who also despises the U.S. military. If the setting was the Occupy Wall Street protests in New York City and the heroines were soft males wearing scarves (in summer) living in donates tents, the author wouldnt have an end to the positive things he'd have to say. mr. Pinkerton, this kind of movie will never be up your alley (try something with Nathan Lane). In future don't waste your time even watching. These flicks are for hardcore American patriotic men only--the kind that earn breeding rights from the best of the females.

Azarkhan
Azarkhan

What does everyone expect? The review is, after all, in the Village Voice, which while perhaps relevant 40 years ago, is now as dated and ridiculous as Nancy Pelosi or Rolling Stone magazine.

sokolov
sokolov

It is only fair for me to say that your review Nick Pinkerton sucked! You must be one of those guys who sits at Starbucks and pretends he is writing the next best American (can I say American?) novel, and hope people notice you. And if they do you pretend that they are bothering you, so you snicker and take another sip of your strawberry frapuchino. Enough said, you catch my drift. Don't be a douche bag talking about our boys like that! "....."based on real acts of valor," whatever that means" - it means Nickolas, they die so douches like you can write your shitty reviews! have a nice day

Hameed Zagadinow
Hameed Zagadinow

Nick Pinkerton, your review skills are seriously lacking. Yes, you may be able to write a half descent review for those Hollywood chumps but for real men you're gay and I mean that in the most demeaning way possible without superciliously adding unnecessary adjectives and adverbs to describe what I mean…hint,hint. There are ways to write lesser reviews without going over the top. Also, if you never spent anytime down range or deployed please tread carefully about your interpretations on acts of valor because your definition is, letting someone go ahead of you in line at the local Starbucks. I served my time and spent more years in war zones than you did in college. So, even though I am no grunt, I did and am currently doing my part for this lovely democracy you are a part of as combat fire fighter/medic. Stick to writing reviews for Brokeback Mountain and Sex in the City movies! I have nothing against homosexuals but you’re a fag.

S11
S11

I really hope you're not getting paid to write these movie reviews. Have you even watched the film? What grade were you in when you decided to drop out of school? "'Based on real acts of valor', whatever that means..." Seriously, you don't know what that means? Perhaps you're more qualified to review a Dr. Seuss book than a movie that uses big words that your little mind can't comprehend.

Acts of Valor was a great film. It was refreshing to see simple guys acting realistically on screen. None of that pathetic drama. None of that tryhard racism.

Yes, this was shot for recruitment purposes. What's wrong with that? It's better than all the crap Hollywood is putting out these days.

Gordon Reed
Gordon Reed

To Nick Pinkerton, author of the first article. I have only one thing to say to you: Until you get your ass in the grass with the rest of us your commentary is a piece of S... You and others like you have no idea what its like and I would not be a bit surprised to find you hiding with your boy friend in the closet when it hits the fan. Simply unconscionable.

Samuel Mosley
Samuel Mosley

fuck you u ignorant fuck. the events portrayed in act of valor actually happened, and were re-enacted. those were acts of valor like J_graham_27 stated. i read your review, and felt disgusted. these navy seals died so you can have the freedom to give this movie a 0 star rating. Oh and by the way i am proud to serve as a Cpl of the United States Marine Corps. Of course these were not the glorious actors you are used to see on the big screen, but actual navy seals, who do not make a living as an actor, but instead defending the freedom of everyone in the United States of America. Do not review any more movies, it just makes yourself look stupid and uneducated, not knowing what an act of valor is.

Paula
Paula

U must not have watched the same movie I did. Most people were moved to tears and felt a lot of appreciation for the people out there protecting us each and everyday.

Rudy Phillips
Rudy Phillips

Hate to break it to you but when you have men that work hard, get their hands dirty, and do things that would mentally break an average person, they do not talk about rainbows and sunshine. Just stick to reviewing movies like "Redwoods" and "The Trip".

Jimmy Clark
Jimmy Clark

Buddy pull your head out of the dark and jump into the warm water of the military. I'm a veteran and you have no clue about these things. If your a vet, which would be hard to believe you probably were in a remp unit. you figure out what that means. you should move if you are not more patriotic. its not all about what you say its what you feel inside.Jimmy

Jeff
Jeff

The thing I would like to say in regards to what ever you thought about the movie is this. Please remember these guys are the real deal. They go out and do this every day. When they are home they are too busy training to preform. So they don't really have time to undertake acting classes. Sorry if you think there preformance was lacking. But they are Navy SEALs not actors. Yes this movie is a recruitment tool. When only 1 percent of the population is qualifed for military service, and less than 1 percent of those in uniform can complete the program, you need to explore every option to het those people into the program. So sorry that it offends your peace loving sensibility's. But thats the way it is. Just remember that those are bad men doing scary things while you sleep, so that you can continue to wake up in the morning and mock them for doing things that you can't and won't do. But they are the reason you have the RIGHT to do it.

Also Mr. Pinkerton allow me to explain to you what a real act of valor means. Look up MA2 Michael Monsoor. As you watch the last scenes of the movie you will find it stunninly similar to Petty Officer Monsoor's heroic acts of valor.

SHANE_MAN
SHANE_MAN

FINE ABBI,... STICK UP FOR THE TOILET AND SURE ENOUGH EVERYONE IS GUNNA THINK YOUR A TURD!!! AND BY THE WAY!...THIS HARDCORE LIB DOESN'T DESERVE THE AUTHORITY TO REVIEW PATRIOTIC FILMS! HE OBVIOUSLY CAN'T HANDLE IT!!!!

anyways...I thought it was a quality movie and no matter what this lib says, I support every vet and every military movie that supports our troops. Shut up abbi..we know you hate our patriotism.

God Bless America

richbatra
richbatra

IDIOTIC REVIEW..IT WAS AWESOME

Jscpba
Jscpba

What a douche... Go back to your occupy Wall Street tent you lib

Lshalimard
Lshalimard

I suppose, if the Seals in the movie were all ho mo boy lovers, if half of the Seals were female, if there had been the usually ghetto low class/ignorant. Black stereotype clown , if there were a racist/sexist anti American, pro isham (I know how to spell I just h a t e evil ) message, that wetspot for the V.Voice would have loved it. L.S.Drakeford

Keiana Stubbs
Keiana Stubbs

Absolutely loved the film seen it twice in one night!!

absolutejoan
absolutejoan

The reviewer is biased. He should not be reviewing 'war' films if he finds patriotism corny. Hope the next terrorist (if we have one) nabs him. Then the reviewer will 'get' what evil is and also that someone has to fight it.

Jswanson
Jswanson

"based on real acts of valor," whatever that means.If you are being paid to write movie reviews and you don't know what that means, you should be fired.

The last scene in "Black Hawk Down", Hoot says he can't tell his friends back home why they do it, because they wouldn't understand. But some of us do get it, and I just want to say THANK YOU!

And to you Abbi-dula, why don't you just shut your pie hole, prick.

Vandalt
Vandalt

The Village voice has a village idiot and he has a computer I see.

Abbi
Abbi

Lol... This is a movie review. That is it. I dont recall him saying ANYTHING about LEGIT ACTIVE DUTY MISSIONS. I dont give a shit if the ACTORS are real. That does not mean this MOVIE is real. This isnt a documentary. This was a film that was made to give some sort of idealism that things revolve around constant action. It was made to be a box office hit. It was made to make MONEY. I think everyone is reading into this so much more than needed.As for the "jew" shit just fucking stop. This isnt a racial issue.And as for the "im a real war vet i know what im talking about" i appreciate it but serously get over it. This is just a movie. So drop the ego. Sorry if thats too bitchy.But I agree with this review.

Itsurrealthing
Itsurrealthing

I supported your right to prove your stupid Berkeley-esque moronic thinking by fighting over there and there, oh yeah, and there also. After reading your attempt at converting the world to communism one fag rag review at a time, I wonder if it was worth it. I support your right to free speech. I agree that it won't win any oscars. The fact that it reveals the shit stains the troops are taking bullets for is a service to Americans. The movie reminds us that we have what it takes to deal with what comes our way with the intention of hurting America and americans( you Included). It also shows us where we keep our typie-leftie fucktards; at least one of them. For the movie review- thanks dipshit for my 13 years active duty- YOU'RE WELCOME

chdefraites
chdefraites

Based on means to establish as fact. Real - not fiction. Acts of Valor, something you obviously know nothing about. However based on real journelisim you should quit t your job and work at a landscape company where a bucket of crap like your opinion would means something. You are a sorry individual.

Daind04
Daind04

Ummm...I think everyone is getting a little too worked up about this review. It's a movie review...about a movie...and I don't think he intended any disrespect to the brave men and women that serve. He certainly could've worded his opening sentence better but I think he meant it only in relation to all the other Hollywood movies that start out with "inspired by true events" or "based on a true story" because, usually, when you look into those stories you realize that the resulting movie has very little to do with the "facts" of whatever event is in question. He's just saying there is confusion as to whether the story you're about to see ACTUALLY happened, or are we just seeing events that have been vaguely recreated with respect to current s.o.P's. And to all of you who so casually throw around "Jew" slander and references, ya know...about 70 years ago, millions of men and women, including my grandpa and great uncles, fought in a war to STOP that kind of racism and bigotry. So, to me, you are disprespecting all those who came and died before you. That is, by far, a greater disservice than any bad movie review could do.

S Gruber
S Gruber

Disappointing to hear there might be a gap in the story arc, but glad the Navy gave us more than movie advice this time. As my USMC brother said about Jarhead: "why would I want to see actors pretend to be Marines?" But I am also disappointed as a former NCO who has been shot at, to hear hate speech. I am glad that trained "personnel" had my back without regard for race, religion, politics, or sexual identity--glad our common goal of mission success needed no hate and name calling to get it done. America's military is outstanding because Jews, gays, straights, women, lesbians, whites, blacks, Asians, Latinos,etc. don't give a shit about ANY of that shit, when they're in the shit. Learn that lesson from a vet and some of you all won't sound like such sorry-ass civilians.Afterall, it's only a movie review about a movie.

guest
guest

you dont know what an act of valor is becuase you have no understanding of service and sacrifice....

Paul Tarullo
Paul Tarullo

This hack review is deplorable and consistent with the left-wing rag the Village Voice - what a punk the author is -

Rightwingfascist
Rightwingfascist

All you left wing jew-bags need to grow the fuck up and quit crying. The military is here to stay, without the courage of men like these guys you wouldnt even have the right to suck off your boyfreind.

Tyler Whitaker
Tyler Whitaker

Completely agree... but keep in mind, the reviewer gave a high rating to the fairytale movie, "Mirror, Mirror". You can't really expect much from him.

Jpkelly06
Jpkelly06

Well said sir.. couldn't agree more.

tygirl
tygirl

ok apophis gun. You must be a Democratic progressive liberal All you liberals do is criticize the military. You couldn't carry the jock strap of even one of these guys. Go home, sit on your couch and watch TV.

Jamesbclark
Jamesbclark

Just finishing a book called American Sniper abou a seal. Most kills ever in any war. Heroic soldier protecting other troops on the ground. A must read! True story that will put you in what really happens in the zone and what it means to protect our freedom. I agree with what you have comments. Thank you! Former soldier and now Veteran

Paranoidivok
Paranoidivok

He just didn't like the movie. Your post started strong but ended up coming off like a douche. If you love America so much you would know that freedom of speech and opinions are part of what make this country great.

Paranoidivok
Paranoidivok

What are you really mad at? People can't dislike this movie without being labeled fags or traitors. Sounds pretty anti-american to me!

Jimmy Clark
Jimmy Clark

Buddy pull your head out of the dark and jump into the warm water of the military. I'm a veteran and you have no clue about these things. If your a vet, which would be hard to believe you probably were in a remp unit. you figure out what that means. you should move if you are not more patriotic. its not all about what you say its what you feel inside.Jimmy

Ken J
Ken J

@Lshalimard

I will have to disagree with you on saying that Islam is "evil." Islam is simply a religion. These terrorists use Islam as an EXCUSE to carry out these atrocities. I know plenty of Muslims that DESPISE these extremists and are completely against doing these kind of things. There's no need to be a bigot just because you disagree with this person's biased and completely stupid review...

Lshalimard
Lshalimard

Yes, you sound like a bitch. End of the month malfunction? L.S.Drakeford

Abbi
Abbi

Also I would like to say that I gaurentee half of you on here bitching saying you have so much active duty are actually 16 year old bitchy teens that sit and play CoD and since youve prestiged 7 times think your an expert in warfare. So yeah. Stop being such bitches about it. If you dont like it dont fucking read it.

Turk
Turk

... the thing is, as is glaringly evident by both the content and nature of your comment (all of it, now!), it WASN'T, and it's NOT... worth it.

but worry not, dear friend; CHANGE IS COMING!

Ken J
Ken J

@Daind04

I take it you were never in the service, so you don't relate, so you don't care. I'm not Jewish, but I don't like the bigotry against them either. But you are definitely giving this author the benefit of the doubt. Trust me, before the review is published, he looked it over and read it over at least twice. He chose his words carefully and meant every bit of it. He obviously has very little respect for those who serve and you can tell by his wording in a lot of this review. So to you, since you can relate to the Jewish people, that's more of a insult than this movie reviewer's attitude toward our brave men and women in the service. But to me, both things are wrong, and I think it's kind of dumb to claim one is more "important" than the other. Bigotry is obviously bad, and so is disrespecting those who are brave enough to sacrifice all in order so we have the rights to openly disrespect them... No need to try to compete about which is worse since you can relate to one and not the other. Not everything is more important because it applies specifically to you...

Ken J
Ken J

I agree with teeshirts, there's absolutely no need for the bigotry. USA is a great country because we have the freedom here to be whatever we want to be. If you read my comment on here you know I'm 100% against this reviewer and 100% for the troops, but I'm also 100% against prejudice such as this. I'm Asian BTW, I bet you hate "my kind" as well don't you? You're making all of us conservatives look bad...

Teeshirts1
Teeshirts1

rightwingfacist assholeyou lose all credability when you start with the Jew hating. im your worst nightmare... a liberal Jew however I support and respect every person that has the guts to serve our great country. so settle down and have a glass of manishevitz

Jonryan Torres
Jonryan Torres

Ok well I get kinda sick of these type of comments, I'm a pretty liberal guy and I'm actually in the Army and proudly Ranger qualified now...just saying.

Angela
Angela

Thank you for serving. I was never in the military. My father was. My grandfather received a purple heart for fighting the Nazis, which I'm very proud of.

SHANE_MAN
SHANE_MAN

we comment because its our freedom to do so and its reflecting our opinions on the article so that others don't base their decision to watch the movie on things like this you ignorant, communist witch!

 

Now Showing

Find capsule reviews, showtimes & tickets for all films in town.

Box Office Report

Join My Voice Nation for free stuff, film info & more!

Loading...