When the film Act of Valor arrived in theaters earlier this year it became a surprise hit, opening at number #1 at the box office. The film went on to earn over $70 million domestically (on a $12 million budget) and brought recognition to both the real life Navy SEALs who starred in the picture and co-directors Scott Waugh and Mike McCoy.
With the film recently arriving on DVD, I had the chance to talk to co-director Scott Waugh and star Lieutenant Commander Rorke Denver about the release, the critical reaction to the film, and the rumors that Waugh would be directing the upcoming video game adaptation, Need for Speed.
Act of Valor focuses on a team of Navy SEALs working to prevent a massive terrorist attack on U.S. soil. Although the movie wasn’t well-received by critics, both audiences and many real-life Navy SEALs appreciated it. Waugh said that the reactions he’s received—and the film’s success—have been “really humbling.” He described some of the encounters he's had since Act of Valor's release:
It’s servicemen and women across the board and I’m talking even outside of the military in terms of the police departments, the fire departments. People coming up to us and thanking us for really honestly showing that world…To me, it’s hard for me cause I’m like ‘it’s the reverse, man. I’m the one thanking you guys. I’m just showing your world honestly.’
Unlike most other military films, Valor starred real SEALs conducting missions, many of which were based on true stories. But these military heroes didn’t abandon their duties or become celebrities after making the film. In fact, as Denver told me, these SEALs have gone back into action since the film finished shooting. He noted:
Everybody has returned to their regular assignment... Almost every member of the cast deployed overseas from the time we started filming before the movie actually premiered.
In terms of the DVD and Blu-ray that arrived in stores nationwide last week, Waugh noted that they are packed with extras including deleted scenes, a director's commentary and the interviews that were conducted with the SEALs before the film went into production. Waugh noted that audiences will “get to really learn intimately about each of the operators on these interviews,” and added that “the Blu-Ray is so packed that we had to leave some things off.”
I also spoke to Waugh and Denver about their favorite military films. Waugh noted that his favorite was Apocalypse Now, calling it Francis Ford Coppola's "masterpiece" and adding that it was the "quintessential war movie." Denver noted that he also loved that film alongside other great war films like Platoon and Saving Private Ryan.
They also spoke out about the criticism that the movie received as a recruiting tool for the military. Denver said that he “wouldn’t really put a lot of stock in” such critiques, adding that if young men and women see the movie and decide to sign up to be members of the military, “the country, I think, would be better for it.” Waugh was more direct in his thoughts, adding that, "if you think sacrifice is a recruitment video, then obviously [you] completely misconceive about what that word means.”
I also spoke briefly to Waugh about Need for Speed. For the past several weeks, it has been reported that Waugh was approached about directing the movie. In our conversation, he confirmed that he will be directing the adaptation and talked about his excitement working with film legend Steven Spielberg:
I couldn’t find a better brand than Need for Speed. I mean it's a huge franchise and to direct under the leadership of Steven Spielberg is just- to me- probably one of the coolest things that could ever happen in my career. I'm just really excited to bring my filmmaking style and authenticity to that kind of genre.
Act of Valor is now available on DVD and Blu-Ray. Be sure to check out our official Screen Rant Act of Valor review.
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