Thursday, February 09, 2012

“Act Of Valor” – Movie Review



This week in my movie class, we saw the action-adventure film “Act Of Valor” starring active duty Navy SEALs. 


When a CIA agent is kidnapped, a team of Navy SEALs are brought in to rescue her – but after they find out she’s uncovered information about a potential terrorist plot, can the SEALs find the terrorists and foil their plan?


In the jungles of Costa Rica, a young physician named Morales is treating the impoverished children of the area – but as a CIA agent, her real mission is to infiltrate a group of drug dealers and earn the trust of their leader, Christo, who heads a smuggling operation to get illegal narcotics into the United States. However, when Christo’s associates learn she is spying on them, they kidnap and torture her for information she is reluctant to provide. When the CIA discovers what occurred, the Navy SEALs are called into action to extract Morales from the kidnappers and return her safely to them.

Once Morales has been rescued, the SEALs become aware of the fact that the intelligence she has gathered over time leads to a much more sinister plan – a terrorist plot that has the potential to kill and/or injure thousands of people in the United States. While Christo himself is not directly involved in this, information suggests that he is close to the source and additional intelligence points to the leader of this plan as being a Chechen Muslim with strong ties to terrorism in his region, whose resources extend throughout the world. Given this, the SEALs are then called upon to locate his base of operations and do whatever is necessary to prevent the plan from being executed.

The SEALs then set out to invade the terrorist’s base to learn the details of his plan as well as his whereabouts. Soon, they discover that the plan involves suicide bombers being smuggled into the United States with Christo’s aid; once there, they will don vests containing explosive devices that cannot be identified by any metal detector. Each individual will then be sent on a mission to go to various geographic regions in order set off their bombs in business districts, shopping malls and just about anywhere the explosion would cause widespread panic, maximum loss to life and property and in general, further disrupt an already shaky American economy. But can the SEALs safely stop this plot from being carried out and either kill or capture the terrorist behind the plan?



In May of 2011, Team 6 of The Navy SEALs was credited with the execution of Osama Bin Laden; since then, they have gained great recognition and considerably higher visibility in the eyes of the citizens of the United States. Not one to miss out on a marketing opportunity, Hollywood has managed to figure out a way to capitalize on their fame by producing the motion picture “Act Of Valor”. Since the movie stars active duty Navy SEALs, that’s probably believed to be enough of a hook to draw people to theaters and distinguish the film from every other action flick.

It was with great anticipation that I have awaited this movie’s release and was immensely surprised when it was selected to be screened in my movie class, which does not ordinarily show anything from the action-adventure genre. From the outset, I had a predilection to like this movie and I did – but to be honest, I can’t say that it was anything out of the ordinary from other movies of this type that I have seen in the past. The inclusion of active duty Navy SEAL team members rather than professional actors made the typical stiff, cardboard-cutout acting usually seen in movies of this ilk even stiffer and more one-dimensional. The stunts, however, were quite good and performed, of course, by the actual SEALs themselves. Needless to say, the movie often has the look and feel of a video game.

Prior to the screening, our instructor interviewed the filmmakers, Mike “Mouse” McCoy and Scott Waugh. They said that the reason they did this movie is because it came as a request from the SEALs themselves, who felt that portrayal of their true story has been inaccurate in other film representations; Mouse and Waugh were chosen by the SEALs based on their background in making action movies. Although they worked from a script, there was a considerable amount of improvisation on the set, especially when it came to the dialog. The filmmakers said that they shot on digital video, utilizing up to 15 lightweight handheld cameras simultaneously; this gave them the opportunity to not only have backup coverage on many of the action scenes (especially the explosions) but also, greater maneuverability – since the cameras were so lightweight, they were able to get many different angles and generally move around more freely than they normally would have with the heavier, bulkier movie cameras.



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