‘Act of Valor’ Review

Published 3 years ago by , Updated November 27th, 2014 at 3:31 pm,

Act of Valor Sniper Act of Valor Review

Moviegoers expecting a fully-formed storyline with compelling character drama may ultimately be underwhelmed by the very moments that other members in the audience will find most compelling.

In an age when Call of Duty games can generate over $1 billion in sales in less than one month, it’s safe to say that military combat simulation represents big business. However, while plenty of video games and Hollywood films have attempted to communicate the horrors of the battlefield, very few fiction projects have ever gone quite so far as Act of Valor, the film by co-directors, Mike McCoy and Scott Waugh.

With a relatively modest budget, the filmmaking team enlisted a batch of active-duty Navy SEALs to create one of the most gritty and grounded military operation films ever conceived. Not only are the leading men in Act of Valor actual servicemen, the directors also employed a number of unconventional production techniques – including live ammunition and explosives. However, is the actual film – aside from all the realistic combat sequences and compelling production choices – an enjoyable and high-octane experience?

Unfortunately, while Act of Valor succeeds as a love letter to servicemen, military families, and anyone who has ever sacrificed for the good of their country, the film itself, from a cinematic standpoint, is a disjointed mishmash of gripping behind-the-scenes details and compelling combat sequences, paired with awkward performances and a generic (as well as jumbled) terrorist storyline. There’s absolutely no doubt that moviegoers who have been touched by military service in one way or another will likely connect with the characters and situations portrayed in the film; however, for film fans and cinephiles looking for a gritty military ops movie, there are a number of shortcomings that will undermine the Act of Valor‘s impact.

Act of Valor Navy SEALS Act of Valor Review

Active-duty Navy SEALs in ‘Act of Valor’

The story follows a team of Navy SEALs on a rescue mission – one that quickly evolves into a multifaceted, globe-trotting operation to stop Islamic extremists from infiltrating U.S. borders and enacting a string of devastating terrorist attacks in a number of America’s most populated cities. It’s a thin but serviceable plot that’s designed to put forth one gripping set-piece after another (infiltration, reconnaissance, interrogation, etc.) but hardly develops the film’s characters. The overarching extremist threat isn’t explored in any more depth than basic “good versus evil” cliches and viewers are never privy to the terrorist leader’s larger motivations, i.e. anything more nuanced than “America is evil” rhetoric.

That said, while the actual storyline is mostly underwhelming and locked into a relatively predictable plot progression, it does (as mentioned) make room for some truly slick combat scenarios that take advantage of the active-duty SEALs’ training and battlefield experience. There’s an authority to the combat sequences (via engrossing frontline action) that few military films have been able to capture in recent memory (with the exception of a few projects such as Ridley Scott’s Black Hawk Down). As an example, phase 1 of the SEALs’ extended mission sees the team infiltrating an enemy compound – and features a number of unique flourishes that ground the experience and offer some genuinely tense as well as cathartic mid-fight moments.

If only the character moments were as effective as the visceral combat scenarios. The plot spends a lot of time centered around two Navy SEAL squad mates and best friends –  showcasing the “true life” experiences servicemen endure as well as their “acts of valor” on the battlefield. However, in their effort to bring authenticity to the proceedings by using actual SEALs, McCoy and Waugh ultimately undermine the success of the realistic and gritty combat sequences with stilted dialogue and stiff performances from their lead actors. It’s obviously a touchy subject – since these are real people who have (and continue to) risk their lives for their country; however, more experienced actors could have ultimately provided a better foundation for the film’s onscreen emotional core.

Act of Valor Soldiers1 Act of Valor Review

Navy SEAL and leading-man Engel leaves home

As a result, a number of the movie’s would-be character revelations come across as somewhat forced and flat-out cheesy – though, again, viewers who have an external investment in the characters (via their own experiences) will likely find these exchanges to be some of the more powerful moments in the film, even if they aren’t delivered in an Oscar-worthy monologue. In terms of making an all-around accessible and captivating fiction film experience, it’s hard to understand why the directors didn’t employ the best of both worlds: use the SEALs to ground the action sequences and bring in a few professional actors to make the lead character moments really sing.

Ultimately, the film’s greatest asset, the real life Navy SEALs (and their insight), create a strange mix of successes and failures that at times enhance the experience and on other occasions don’t translate very well from reality to film. Much like the acting, there are moments where the filmmakers overindulged in reality and undermined immersion – offering a few flat-out all too “convenient” moments that probably have occurred on the battlefield (one involving a close-range RPG, especially), but come across as emotionally manipulative when viewed as part of a manufactured film project. Similarly, while the film’s thin video game-esque storyline plays out like a mission logbook, and showcases the various aspects of military ops, it never bothers to develop the characters beyond anything but basic stereotypes – meaning that even though the story is on the surface realistic, there’s very little for certain portions of the audience to connect with in the moment or ponder once the credits roll.

It’s easy to recommend Act of Valor to military enthusiasts and servicemen, who will no doubt see themselves in the characters on screen, and action fans will also find plenty to like in the movie’s various combat sequences. However, moviegoers expecting a fully-formed storyline with compelling character drama may ultimately be underwhelmed by the very moments that other members in the audience will find most compelling. As a result, the overall response to Act of Valor is likely to spark one of the most divisive movie conversations of 2012.

If you’re still on the fence about Act of Valor, check out the trailer below:

[poll id=”276″]

Follow me on Twitter @benkendrick – and let us know what you thought of the film below.

Act of Valor is rated R for strong violence, including some torture, and for language. Now playing in theaters.

Our Rating:

2.5 out of 5
(Fairly Good)

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106 Comments - Comments are closed.

  1. Agreed on all points good review ben

    • Cheers Trey.

  2. I really liked Black Hawk Down. Should I see this movie in theaters or wait it out?

  3. Hello, sorry to have to correct you Ben, but the rpg scene was not “convenient” but surprisingly realistic. But most movie fans will not realize it.


    Actually, the real RPG has to travel a certain distance before it arms itself. This is to prevent the shooter from killing himself if he fires into something close like in the movie. So technically speaking (I wouldn’t want to try it myself) it was realistic that it didn’t go off because it barely traveled a few feet, which means the rocket booster didn’t even kick in yet. Even the propellant has two stages and at that range it’ll still be in its first stage.

    • Indeed, almost every kind of explosive projectile, shell or rocket has a fuse that has to set so that the shooter does not accidentally immolate himself or his comrades.

      The artillery rounds we fired had 5 fuses in them that had to set, the last being the ‘trigger/impact/condition desired’ fuse, if you will.

      • Dude…doesn’t matter if it armed or not. 203 to the chest plate would seriously rock someone, let alone a rpg. That scene was one of the FEW uhhhhh wtf moments. I was okay with him surviving, but not with him getting up and walking away from it. He would be at Walter Reid with fractured ribs. Overall, not a good film, but AUTHENITC; which I appreciate more than it being a good film.

        • Reed*

    • Ken –

      You’re taking the point out of context: “‘Convenient’ moments that probably have occurred on the battlefield (one involving a close-range RPG, especially), but come across as emotionally manipulative when viewed as part of a manufactured film project.”

      I flat out admit that someone could get hit with an RPG at close range – but the point is that the way it’s used in the movie is, in my subjective opinion, pretty manipulative in film-form.

      • Really? So while you were writing this review you were aware of the fact that the RPG didn’t explode because it didn’t arm itself yet and not because it was a dud like they joked about?

        I mean, if that’s true, then I wonder, what was so “convenient” about a RPG behaving normally? Also, you say that it probably has happened before, I was under the impression that you are saying that people have experienced duds before, I mean, a lot of these projectiles are probably 30 years old. But it’s still up to luck if you get a dud or not, so that’s why I thought when you said the scene was “convenient” it was because you were under the impression that he “conveniently” got a dud…

        I don’t know, I just don’t really see how showing something the way it behaves normally just doesn’t seem manipulative to me… But that’s just my opinion…

        • Ken – With all do respect, I feel like we’re going in circles about this one point. I understand where you’re coming from (and your opinion just differs from mine) but you keep taking this one word out of my context. I said, “Convenient’ moments that probably have occurred on the battlefield.” I didn’t say I was an expert – I’m sure there are more than one reasons why someone can survive an RPG to the chest. As I said, it’s my subjective opinion. I thought a few things like that were manipulative – but it’s my opinion.

          • @Ben

            I’m seriously just curious what you find convenient about something working the way it always does… But I guess we don’t need to get into it any more if you don’t want to…

            • You can survive an rpg-7 to the chest (plate)…maybe. But I promise that you will not get up, shake it off, and do a follow on mission. You would have several broken ribs and some internal issues for damn sure.

              • @Fair Enough

                Lol, I made that comment to my friends. But hey, he’s just THAT much of a bad-ass, lol. But then again, if it was still in its first stage where it’s just to launch it out far enough so the main propellant wouldn’t burn the person firing it, maybe it could happen the way it did… I’m not sure and will not want to try it so I’ll just leave it at that, lol.

                • just want to relate a incident that happened on a fire exercise when i was a active duty marine.i was in a 8in self propelled artillery btry and while firing a mtsq (multiple time super quick)fuse on an8in h e round malfunctioned causing the round to detonate in the tube sending most of the tube 50yrds downrange the rest looked like elmer fudds shotgun but you know what was really strange outside some ruptured eardrums and a sprained knee no one was injured go figure right?

                  • @str8jkt82

                    That’s when you buy a lottery ticket… 😀

        • do you know how far it takes for a grenade to arm itself after its fired? hate to tell you but its about 30 yrds so that was not as undoable as you think

          • The arming function and main propellant does NOT ignite until it is at a SAFE distance recognized as 30 yards (90 feet) from the firing person. So, yes, the RPG was NOT travelling at it’s full speed when it hit nor was it armed. People need to know about somethings actual technical function before posting a criticism.

      • Also Ben, I agree that the plot was pretty thin and that the acting wasn’t good, but I have to ask, when it comes to trying to be realistic, shouldn’t it be predictable?? I mean, unfortunately real life isn’t as interesting as movies, and things really do happen in real life in very simple ways. Bad guys do bad things, good guys try to stop them. I’m personally glad they didn’t try to put in some crazy convoluted plot twist because that’s simply something you expect to see in movies, not in real life…

        • The key point to me is that realistic doesn’t necessarily translate into enjoyable movie watching for people who just want to see an exciting movie.

          People who are connecting with the film on a different level (i.e. servicemen, etc) might not care as much but casual moviegoers might want something with a richer narrative and characters.

          I think I was pretty fair with this review – I can see both sides of it. But, as I mention, I can’t recommend the film wholeheartedly to people who had different expectations

          • @Ben

            I never said you were not fair, was just asking about one single point in the review about the plot being predictable. Do you really think it would have been a better movie if they had put in some convoluted plot twist or conspiracy theory?

            • @Ken and Ben (heh) – I understand Ben’s point about there being “convenient” story telling techniques used to manipulate a specific emotional response from the viewer. The filmmakers used them a lot in this film but at least they were used correctly. The overall story of the film was more than a little contrived and the way it is told can be really confusing. We didn’t get a chance to really get to know these characters so when one gets hurt or another pair runs off to the Africa, we aren’t sure which ones we should be invested in.

              That being said, the action in the film was crazy good and I’m a little more emotionally invested having lots of friends who are currently in harms way. It was refreshing to see the US Military portrayed on screen as the heroes they actually are instead of a pack of juiced up alpha males you always see breaking the rules (The Hurt Locker), never EVER work as a team (Navy SEALS), look for ways to steal (Three Kings) or just all around screw ups (Jarhead).

              This movie is more or less a love letter to the US Armed Forces and even though the acting is wooden (the Senior Chief rocked though) you can tell these guys have been through these particular scenarios more than once (except maybe the RPG and the ending).

              I say kudos to the filmmakers for showing that heroes don’t have to wear spandex.


              • @Paul

                Dude, I agree with EVERYTHING you just said, even every description of other movies, holy crap. You don’t understand, you pretty much took the words right out of my mouth regarding The Hurt Locker, Jarhead, and Three Kings. Although I enjoyed Navy SEALs simply because it was a stupid 80’s action flick, so it’s kind of meant to be cheesy, lol. I freakin’ HATED The Hurt Locker for that reason. They had such a negative outlook on the military, and they sacrificed realism at every turn just to have these contrived “suspenseful” scenes like that scene with the guy who ran the checkpoint. It would have NEVER got to that point. They would have lit him the f* up the second the car doesn’t slow down approaching the checkpoint… And after that one carbomb he disarmed in the most unrealistic way possible, Kathryn Bigelow just HAD to have that one military officer come up to him and commend him for being a cowboy and being crazy… In real life he probably would have been court-martialed for not following direct orders… But they really just wanted to show that the military are made up of reckless guys looking for a thrill ride…

                And I have the exact same opinions about Jarhead and Three Kings as well, I can’t believe how similar we think on that issue. I also really loved the movie despite its thin plot and bad acting because of how overwhelmingly positive they portray the troops. I hate when everytime a movie portrays the troops in a positive light, people automatically disregard it as a recruitment tool. Whether it was meant to be used as a recruitment tool, there’s no reason to doubt that’s how our guys really are. I was in and a lot of my friend either was or still am, and let me tell you, while there are a few that are there for stupid reasons, most of them are good guys like they show in this movie, looking out for one-another, and above all, willing to put their own lives in harm’s way to fight for this country. Shame on people who think it’s wrong to celebrate them on film…

                Paul, let me ask you, what did you think of Battle LA? Regardless of the overall movie, what did you think of the way they portrayed the Marines? I get so mad when people CRITICIZE that they made the Marines so overwhelmingly good that it must be a recruitment tool… I mean, seriously, a recruitment tool? Are we at war with aliens?? It’s almost like people will not accept a movie with the military in it unless they are bad, or in the gray area… Personally, without expressing any opinion about the overall movie, I loved how they portrayed the Marines in that movie.

                • Wow…

                  “I also really loved the movie despite its thin plot and bad acting because of how overwhelmingly positive they portray the troops.”

                  Of course this was referring to Act of Valor, not Three Kings or Jarhead, I know the way that paragraph was put together there might be confusion, lol, oops.

                  “I was in and a lot of my friend either was or still am”

                  LMAO, ok, that should read: “I was in the military and a lot of my friends either were or still are”

                  Apparently I’m not completely awake…

                  But boy I wish you would have written this review, lol. I was thinking it would get at least a 3 out of 5. I’ve seen much worse movies get 3 stars on here, and none of those had real heroes in them… I would have given them the benefit of the doubt just because… Personally, even if all of the movie was bad, I’d still go pay to watch it just to support it because of their good intentions of portraying our troops in a good light. I really want this movie to be successful so maybe other movie makers will see that a celebration of our troops can be financially successful. I am not at all looking forward to Kathryn Bigelow’s upcoming Osama Bin Laden movie. It’ll no doubt sympathize with the terrorists and show our SEALs as a bunch of brain-dead commandos just out for blood… I wish they will pull the plug on that turd…

              • god jarhead was a crappy movie.

      • Ben,

        That may have been perceived as manipulative to you, but that REALLY happened to a SEAL in combat. Another one of the SEALs REALLY had his eye shot out, Another SEAL REALLY dove on a grenade and saved his friends. So, if it the truth, and it is, is it still manipulative?

        • Dude…people critique Restrepo for not being a good “movie,” and that’s like actual footage. There will always be pure film critics with valid arguments as to why Act of Valor was not a good movie, but that doesn’t mean they’re 100% right. I watched this movie through a different lens, and I praise it for its authenticity – my measure of a good military film. I could not find too many moments where I found it to be total BS – unlike Hurt Locker. Don’t let the war noobies give you a case of the ass.

          • I can’t believe people found The Hurt Locker to be a good movie. That was probably one of the few times I seriously considered demanding my money back… but I know it’s not the theater’s fault…

  4. Damn Ben, you don’t support the troops!!!

    Aside the fact the this film uses real active Navy SEALS, the other big factor, for Production geeks is that his was filmed on the Canon 5D Mark II. How does it translate on the big screen? I’m sure it has been filtered and whatnot, but, any noticeable changes?

    I always wondered what a SOCOM film would look like. Sony should have jumped on this for a new SOCOM PS3 game tie in.

    • Haha. Kofi and the other podcast guys definitely set me up for some commie jokes. Glad I didn’t disappoint.

      I didn’t notice any “noticeable” changes – but, now that I think about it, it does look “filtered.”

      And I totally agree about SOCOM.

  5. Ben you Commie!!! lol jk. I sort of expected it would be this type of film so it’s a solid rental for me.

    • Cheers Pharaoh.

  6. Just got back from seeing this in the AMC larger format. It kicked ass. Im was in the Marines years ago. Yes the acting is not so great. The editing curs are not smooth. But I had a blast watching it. and a couple times I dmit I got a bit teery eyed. The review was right, If you have a military history or are connected to one this movie leaves you feeling good. Id go see this again in the theater.

    • @HG

      I’m with you, I know most civilians who cannot tell the difference would not enjoy it, but I really enjoyed seeing a group of people who knew how to move as a group, knew how to stack up, properly repeat hand signals, properly use their weapons, using proper radio etiquette, etc. etc. etc. Sometimes watching these other movies, even if they have all the best actors in the world, they do such stupid things in the action scenes it just takes me right out of the movie…

      • I completely agree with you guys about the way the guys interacted – that was pretty great.

        The moment where the one SEAL turns around while in the back of the truck, twisting his body, and just pops the driver… that’s definitely what makes using the real guys compelling. I just, personally (and I know people disagree) wish the character moments worked just as well.

  7. The trailer has way too many “fireball” explosions for me. If you are going to make an “authentic” combat movie it is unnecessary. I will catch this on Netflix for that reason alone because in normal movies it annoys me and to market the movie the way they have it would just make me mad the entire time.

    • The thing is, they have no control over those things, since they cannot simply fire real rockets at things, that’s all up to the studio and special effects people. But everything they do are realistic, let me tell you that much, and it’s awesome to see that kind of skill-set in the action scenes.

      But yes, the story was very thin, and the acting wasn’t great, but I don’t care about that really. I would rather they know how to shoot bad guys well than know how to recite lines… We already have plenty of useless idiot actors who can recite lines, what the SEALs do on their day jobs is so much more important, so they automatically get a pass from me…

  8. I am pleased that there is a movie out there giving our heroes their due .
    But as a story ,it just doesnt seem compelling to me .

    • Perhaps Gary, it would have been compelling enough for you should you have been the one having your hands drilled through? OR maybe we would all have a different attitude if we experienced another 911?

  9. If you have ties within the military I would say this film is for you but if you are a regular movie watcher and want a “good acting film” then skip this. The action within the movie stays true to it looking realistic but other than that it’s a failure. I stayed and watched the whole film since I paid but I’ve never seen people just get up and leave. I walked into one guy as I left finishing arguing with the movie attendee. He was one of the ones that left half way into the film. He said he was amped about seeing this film but was soo furious in how the story was laid out. I agreed and we parted ways as he continued to see if he could get his money back. Good thing I had a gift card or else I would be upset as well.

  10. I am a civilian and I watch lots of movies of all types. Watch a bunch of good ones and the bad. I love military movies. I seriously never expected this movie to have good acting, but it doesn’t bother me that much for this movie. But what I really want to say is, so many people complain about this movie not having a GREAT story. so many people complain about every movie not having a great story. It’s like what the hell? If you want a great original story then go read a damn novel! This movie was clearly made for the action and realism of military combat. How many stories are out there today that are “original”? we probably get like 1 or 2 very original movies a year. Its just funny how some people love a bore fest,and they think action junkies are just stupid! Ever hear of Raising Victor Varges? good movie….But would never watch it again. How about Y Tu Mama Tambien?….Well that movie sucked to me.Twilight????…..GARBAGE! So is the novel! How about the movie Milk? great acting, based on real story. Did I like the movie? ehh… I guess. Yes its a good movie but would never care to watch it again. Now, Ninja Assassin lol no story what so ever but clearly for the action junkies, but who cares, cause I tell you Memento was so damn boring! Act Of Valor is a great movie I think. Yes it has flaws. And yea the story isn’t the best but so what! l loved black hawk down and that has no story, but good actors and ACTION. Does Saving Private Ryan have a great story? If you say yes…Then wow. The movie is good but if you break down all the drama, there is really not much story to this movie at all. Its just another war movie. O but thats considered “one of the best war movies ever” blah blah.

  11. i would have liked it if you went into more detail in regards to the action, i don’t watch these kinds of movies for the drama (i have plenty of that in my life as it is), i just want to watch a fun action movie that will take me away from reality for a few hrs.

    how similar to black hawk is this, b/c if it is very similar then the gang and i are gonna love this :)

    • J –

      I said the action was solid and they used cool live-fire production techniques – what more should I say without spoiling the various set-pieces? Just didn’t want to over-describe the moment-to-moment action.

      As for Black Hawk Down, I used that as an example of a gritty and realistic war movie. This isn’t as solid all around but if you’re looking for action – it’ll deliver. Hope you and the gang have fun.

      • cool so cliché action is to be expected, but nothing over the tope hollywoodesque. we shall have a grand time watching this one (if and when its released in aus).

  12. bah. still going to go see it. seen MANY horribly rated movies that i completely adored.

    • and it was good like i KNEW it would be. screw reviewers (including you). ill never read another review in my life.

  13. I have no military back ground and I loved this movie. I’ve seen a couple of responses saying if you didn’t have a back ground in the armed forces you wouldn’t enjoy it. I thought it was great!

  14. I saw this today and while I have never served I have multiple family members who have. The premise for the film actually started as a recruiting film for the SEALs but was expanded for full length feature. I could see the point of the acting not being top notch but what I found out (from a veteran organization that was at the premier) is that none of the active duty military who were in the film were paid for their performance nor could they be. Besides honestly who goes to see any action film for the great acting? Jason Statham perfect example and that guy gets paid big bucks to keep a straight face and kick ass. All and all even from a chick standpoint yes the acting and plot development could be better but they aren’t paid actors and that wasn’t the goal of the film. There are some bloody scenes if your girl is squeamish but the human element and home life will still have her cry like the biggest chick flick. I’d see it again but my feeling is if you don’t support the troops feel free to stand in front of them.

  15. I hope all who see it give the respect to those who have lost their lives by staying a few seconds after the movie ends while their names are listed.

  16. I think some people are overanalyzing it (or I am under-analyzing it). I have been waiting for this movie from the moment I saw the first preview. I am a former Marine and I was in Iraq in ’03 and am here today because of the actions of the Navy seals. The movie is very clichè in the storyline, (America = bad, Islaam = good) but the teamwork/tactics/comraderie is unmatched and makes the film worth watching. I admit there were times when i thought “this is too clichè”, but there is a deeper meaning in all of it. I think that w/o the clichè moments, and the semi-boring plot, you would miss the big picture, and maybe that was the point- maybe the point was to put the SEALS in the spotlight, not the acting, not the story line or immense character development- but in the way they carry themselves as the US’ top special ops force. I’m hoping that they do something like this again, beef up the story line a little, stick with the realism.

    • I assume you meant America = good, Islam = bad??

      But anyway, I disagree. They never made any statement about any religion. The main terrorist happened to identify himself with Islam, but they never made it a point that everyone who is a Muslim is the enemy. In fact, the other main villain was Jewish, and they worked together…

      • They never said Islam = bad. They just illustrated what’s been going on the past 20 years: people blow themselves up and use this as a terror technique, and oh, they just happen to be Islamic. Ever see Patriot Games? Key scene took place in England with Catholic IRA members FWIW.

        • @Fair

          Um, please read things in context. I never made any such comments, I’m just repeating what I’m sure the guy I’m replying to meant to type…

  17. Ben,
    I think we are missing the total reason as to why this movie was made. I am a combat veteran with three deployments. I plan on seeing this movie tonight with my family. Who cares if this movie had cheesey moments or bad acting. I feel the reason this movie was made is to show truely what these elite men go through and the hardships faced not only by them or the men that serve beside them, but also what the families endure during the time they are gone. There are many critics out there. who have to rip a movie apart because it didn’t have this or it didn’t that. Yes I’m sure if they had some big time actors the movie would have been better but I think the producers and directors did the best they could with the budget they had. I commend them for being able to get active duty Navy Seals to portray in this movie. Remember it took two years for this movie to be made due to the combat deployments these man had to do during the making of this movie. I am sure during this time they lost friends. Buddies who paid the ultimate sacrifice. We as a country have lost what this country had to endure to become the United States of America! We give up so much freedom to serve our country. A country which we love but it is not the reason we die for it. Its because of the men and women beside us that we fight alongside with that we die for. Not one us want to die but those fallen hero’s who paid the ultimate sacrifice did what they did, so that others may live. “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few” We just ask that our country support us and mostly Love us! We may not agree with the politics involved with the way things are but we have a duty as memebers of our armed forces to do our job. I would like to end this by saying this quote from George Orwell “People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.” God Bless the Navy Seals. God Bless Our Armed Forces and God Bless the United States of America. Semper Fi and Hooah

    Patrick Horan
    SSG US Army/US Marine Corps

    • I don’t think propaganda like films are the answer or what we need. What is the point of producing a film like this to make some point about the sacrifices the troops and families endure, yet we pay military contractors enormously more to do the jobs troops used to do, and we allow families to fall prey to payday lenders. I think there is a much better way to honor the troops than by producing propaganda and ignoring the real world needs of families and individuals involved.

      • Blah de blah blah sorry but did you have a point about this movie? This movie depicts actual deployments that actually happened and are admittedly changed/disguised a bit to protect operational security.

        Hollywood produces MASSIVE numbers of outright anti US troop propaganda films (too many to mention) that distort the troops sacrifice to make political points for the left. This movie is different because it stands with a VERY few movies that well illustrate the actual worth of the troops. Further it does it without actually giving speeches about how wonderful they are. Hollywood propaganda films often have nice lame speeches no real person would ever give that show how much the Hollywood crowd hates the troops and what they do.

        Now to what (I guess) was your point? Yes, the troops are being failed by our politicians. Yes, it would be nice to also do a film about that how about you buy your own Canon and get busy?

  18. I thought the movie was awesome! I went to an afternoon matinee and the house was packed and no left weird. The plot was thin? There is probably a bunch of things that happen just like that every day that we probably never hear about. And the reason why there probably wasn’t a lot of character development is because they were probably trying to show how it is in real life. To me it seemed like it was just how it is when me and my friends hang out at the beach.

  19. One of the best reviews that I’ve read. You nailed it.

    -GWOT vet.

  20. Gettingnyour eye shot out and surviving is very realistic happened to a comrade in the desert, Love the interrogation scene, easily could’ve made some bs scene for better theatrics.

  21. This movie is pure propaganda and nothing else. Now that the wars are winding down, new ways need to be found to keep selling us on the glory of military service and this film is the newest avenue. Video games are covered, this film is in the can, we can watch the Military channel, and I’m sure a tv series could be coming down the pipe any time now. As for “Act of Valor”, we will never find out who funded it, but certainly with the DOD approving of it, the filmmakers didn’t have complete creative control. The military simply won’t cooperate with movies that don’t make them look as great as possible, which is their prerogative, but don’t get fooled into believing this was anything but a sales job on our “heroes” in uniform. If you supported the wars then this movie is for you. If you are tired of the jingoistic, Homer Simpson-like chants of “USA, USA, USA”, you probly should look for something different to watch. But something all of us should be doing is pushing our government for better pay and benefits for the men, women and families that serve. Falling prey to payday lenders, and watching contractors earn 5 times as much for the same work is totally unacceptable.

    • I agree with you mickeba in regards to the pittance our Combat Military earn.

      Disagree with you on Act of Valor being “Propaganda”.

      My son has served 2 tours in Afghan as a Marine Scout Sniper. I can tell you though that his decision to serve was not for the money, it was to “serve” his country.

      I think we should get rid of ALL entitlement programs and give our military a big pay raise. What an oxymoron; “Entitlement”.

      Sadly, America as we see it today is not the America it once was 50 years ago. It sickens me.

      I’ll stop here.

      • It was definitely propaganda. It started out as a recruiting film for the Navy and grew into a feature, so to me, it’s a propaganda piece.

        • It’s the type of propaganda that John Wayne’s “Green Berets” was. I think they expanded it into a full feature because with the wars winding down, and recruiting getting tougher, they needed a new tool to pull in the kids. The military is heavily involved in video game development, they are setting up recruiting offices in high schools, and a film like this is one more piece in the puzzle to ramp up new recruits.

          • mickeba,

            OK. We get your point – you believe this (and apparently any US-made war film that portrays our troops heroically that was ever made) is propaganda.

            You’ve said your piece (multiple times), so move on to another subject. You’re not going to convince anyone on the other side and no one is going to convince you of anything different. I appreciate that the source of your complaints seems to be that you want the troops to be treated BETTER, but you’re coming across like you’re trying to start an argument, and we don’t let things get out of hand here.

            So if you have more to say on this – call or email your local representative instead of airing your grievances here.


            Vic (Owner of Screen Rant)

            • Sorry to have upset you, and these are my last words on this, only cos you commented to me. I don’t believe every movie portraying troops heroically is propaganda. Black Hawk Down wasn’t nor were many others. Many war films have gotten many messages out, without being propaganda based. This one I see differently because it did start out as a recruiting film, and morphed into something else. I don’t begrudge anyone liking it, or supporting it, but I do feel it needs to be viewed through that prism.

              • mickeba,

                OK, appreciate your comment. We’re cool.



    • let me guess you never served one day and your claim to to is to bad mouth our country and the fine men and women who serve it at least our servicemen can may some day look back in pride on thier deeds but will you

  22. I can’t believe how many “Damn Many” people sit back and criticize something they know nothing about.

    One can never truly know what our Seals go through unless you’ve served as a Seal.

    This movie helps us take a closer look into the world of Navy Seals without being one.

    The story line in this movie was eye opening as well. We see through a glass darkly as a civilian.

    I went to see this movie 2x’s in one day. The first time was early in the morning, I was alone. The second time was in the evening and brought 4 people with me.

    What a great movie!

    • Glad you enjoyed it, but it is propaganda. The film was initially developed as a recruiting tool for the Navy, and grew into a feature film. My big issue with films like this is that it focuses on the heroism, which is filmic and entertaining and all that, yet in real life, the needs of the families are ignored and set aside. How many fans or viewers of this film will go home and lobby their elected officials to do something really tangible to help the troops and families enjoy better lives and better financial and mental health security. Cheerlead the movie all you like, but after the show is over, what then?

      • Thanks Mickeba.

        I am a Marine Mom and a Navy Vet. I do agree with you in regards to fans being complacent. In fact, many Americans are fat and complacent.

        I agree, we should be doing more for our troops.

        Let’s start with getting rid of the welfare system and allocating that money to our troops after the military contractor’s stop inflating prices for supplies. There is so much fraud, waste and abuse in the military. Paying $150 for a lamp that cost $25…I could go on and on as I worked in the Naval Supply Dept.

        The majority of our military serve because they choose to serve. We signed the dotted line eyes wide open and did so knowing that we wouldn’t get ‘rich’ monetarily.

        Anyway…I’m off to watch the movie again!

        Just teasin’…

      • is it any more propaganda than the usual tripe that holly wierd puts out on regular basis? this movie is really close to the real thing been there done that!!!!!!

      • Funny thing is mickeba what you call heroism they call just doing their job.

  23. I’m getting sick of movies that portray my brothers in arms as sadistic psychopaths when they’re actually good, honorable men. Contrary to what the enemy wants you to believe, they aren’t rapists or murderers or mercenaries who do what they do for the money. Are there some here and there that are and do? Sure, but I’ve never met any of them. It’s not a revelation that there are assholes in every walk of life (Roger Ebert comes to mind as an jerk in the movie review biz). If you’re driving down the road in a car with 3 friends and one of them flips off another car, does that make you an jerk? No.

    As for the film, it exceeded all my expectations both as a film and as a tell-tale of what our boys go through down range, with a little bit of action movie flare (explosions were bigger than they would be, a shooter would already have had his mask on for at least half an hour before a HALO jump, use of unsuppressed weapons and visible lasers, the aforementioned RPG encounter, from what I recall) thrown in for the video game kids and to wow the average viewer. Also, bad acting? These SEALs were essentially portraying themselves. Do you complain about bad acting when you’re hanging out with your wife and kids at a barbecue? Are they bad actors, too? Is Mr. Kendrick’s acting as a movie reviewer bad? What about Mr. Holtreman? Has anyone ever told you your acting as the site owner was bad? You can’t really complain about any of those individuals’ acting because they aren’t acting, can you?

    If anything I said came off as disparaging, I didn’t intend for it and apologize in advance.

    Also, the shot of the two SEALs above with 203s on their M4s, I don’t think that’s from AoV. I don’t recall any of the SEALs using thumpers during the film.

    • Samedi,

      Like you, I don’t like movies that come out of Hollywood that portray soldiers in a very bad light, and judging from the box office totals of those types of films (which are very poor), most people agree with you and I on that.

      However your argument regarding the acting in the film is invalid. This is a piece of fiction, albeit starring actual SEALs, so it should be judged as any other “action” movie. Now if this were a documentary, you would be right on, and Ben wouldn’t have had anything to say about the performances (since in a documentary every plays themselves and no “acting” is expected of anyone).

      Best regards,


    • @Samedi – I loved the movie. I’m a HUGE supporter of the American Military (any military really…bought some Canadian Army and Navy guys drinks last night in fact) but the harsh reality is the movie had problems, well, in being a movie. There was a different cliche every 15 minutes, the story was told in a haphazard way and yes, the acting by the SEAL members was very wooden, not bad, but just wooden.

      That being said, I don’t think Ben’s review of the movie is that far off base. However, I did thoroughly enjoy the film and will most likely see it again in the theater.

      Paul Young

  24. Sorry about the profanity, didn’t see the no profanity rule until after I hit the submit button.

  25. served in beruit in 83-84 also on the twa hijacking in 85 closet thing to the truth i have seen certain parts were too close to home

  26. I watched the movie Today. A piece of advice – you better understand the characters if you read “American Sniper” by NAVY SEAL Chris Kyle beforehand. I’m sure I’d have more complains if I didn’t. The movie, specifically roles of snipers, just makes much more sense. I have my share of complains though – the plot is wearied off pretty thin. Mexican drag smugglers in cahoots with suicide bombers…come on! And Russian oligarch – sum Jew mastermind of Jihad…that’s rich. Everybody who was not asleep for the last ten years knows that SEALS were deployed and fought in Afghanistan and Iraq, with occasional action in African Horn against Somali pirates. That’s Hollywood PC gone wild. What, you can’t offend the savages (not my words – Kyle’s)?

  27. Well this not so great film made 24 millions dollars, beating safe house, and was number 1 at the box office. So much for all these lame comments.

  28. It made more money than the Oscar nominated Hurt Locker.

    • @pawn65

      Which meant nothing since that movie only won because of its anti-military undertone that the academy loves. That movie had absolutely 0 authenticity, contrived suspenseful scenes, and so many pointless scenes that were just thrown in to get Bigelow’s political message through.

      I mean, a guy running through a checkpoint without being riddled with bullets?

      Shooting a gas tank to catch it on fire?

      Digging through a car to find a receiver or detonator or whatever when all it should have taken was a single phone call to set it off?

      Being commended by a superior officer for NOT following direct orders?

      Barely trained rag-tag insurgents being better snipers with a medium-range weapon versus a group of highly trained SAS operatives with a long-range .50 caliber sniper rifle?

      Blood causing a bullet to not chamber into a Barrett?

      A soldier, leaving the compound ALONE to search the streets of Iraq? Again, split up and ALONE???

      Shall I go on?? Yet the critics praise how Bigelow doesn’t sacrifice authenticity… I didn’t see one iota of authenticity in that entire movie… It was a political statement for that movie to win best picture and everyone who has a brain knows it…

  29. Truth is, Act of Valor is #1! It may be uncomfortable to watch and very hard to grade for a number of reasons… but it has a deeper message even if/ because it is a recruiting and propaganda film. A message about our society, and the men we have ordered to go into harms way for us for over a decade. You can feel the critics hesitation as they ponder this encroachment into the public space that feels wrong. If one believes that is bad or good, largely defines how one will critique this movie. The actors and film makers are not asking us to review it as anything other than a tribute to and a recruiting film for one of our most hyper patriotic military units. Very able, insanely well trained, heavily armed, well funded, smart patriots- One could define that as jingoism… I suppose?

    The power of elite units and this brazen success to manipulate this median and control the narrative to their advantage may make us uncomfortable, but it should not be ignored or belittled. We have asked them to do this for us, no matter how much critics are uncomfortable about the fact that this is an information warfare strike in which these “actors” are playing a vital role. These men do not care about the critics, they care about the mission. Their primary objective is to support and defend our Constitution and follow lawful orders. To win for the United States. In this mission (movie) these men will produce the results the Nation is trying to accomplish. It will push an image to a massive audience, help recruit minorities and protect funding, with an acceptable risk of collateral damage to the brand. It will help the war effort. Mission success!

    If nothing else, you have to admire the skill in this demonstration of raw image control. “Hoo yah” to that! May the “Teams” and the Navy reap the benefits with as little negative image blowback as possible. Fight. Team. Win! “The only easy day, was yesterday.” Enlist today!