When I was given the chance to review an advanced copy of the Act of Valor DVD, I jumped on it. I didn’t really know much about the movie except that it starred real, active-duty Navy SEALs. To be honest, I was expecting a movie along the lines of Commando where you just sit back, shut off your mind, and watch bullets fly through a jungle. I was absolutely wrong.
Don’t get me wrong. The action scenes were amazing. You get to see a ton of very cool equipment and tactics employed by SEALs, and they never get over-shadowed by ridiculous, over-the-top special effects that you see in most action movies today. The explosions were on a much more plausible level, and the action scenes felt more “real” than in any movie that I have seen in quite awhile.
The thing that really surprised me about the movie was the quality and depth of the story. I was really expecting bullets and explosions to carry the movie, but that’s not the case at all. The story is exceptional, and less an action movie along the lines of Commando than it is a thriller in the genre of Sum of All Fears. You can’t just sit back with your mind shut off. The movie makes you engage, and it is much better because of it.
While all of these qualities made for a great movie, the thing that really sold me on it was the sense of realism about it. I’m certainly not a SEAL, so I can’t vouch for the tactics and methods that they used, but the action scenes certainly felt real. I am, however, a sailor, so I can speak to the interactions between the characters and their families.
Towards the beginning, there is a scene around a campfire where the Lieutenant makes sure that his guys have their business at home squared away before they leave for deployment. I have given nearly that exact speech to my sailors multiple times in the past. There is also a scene where the lieutenant says goodbye to his wife since it’s time to go. Trust me, that exact scene plays out thousands of times a year at front doors, piers, and air fields around the country. After the movie, when I asked my wife what she thought, her reply was, “There were a few parts that hit a little close to home.” That’s what I mean about realism.
Overall, this was a terrific movie. I would definitely give it 5 stars out of 5. The action is breath-taking, the story is awesome, and some parts are heart-breaking. You’ll probably watch the movie for the action sequences, but you’ll remember it because of the rest. Either way, you should definitely watch it. It comes out on video June 5th.