My initial inclination about a movie with real (or former) Navy SEALs conducting an operation across several continents was skeptical.
I was wrong. “Act of Valor” will receive no acting or screenwriting awards, but it doesn’t matter. The operation is the story, and SEAL Team 7 is its supporting cast. And, it is one rip of a movie.
“Act of Valor” highlights the clandestine and efficient, yet human, aspects of our special forces. Poor timing, weather, equipment/communications failures are factors that screw up good plans. The underpinning of the plan remains its extraordinary participants – trained, talented, committed – working as a team.
While fictional, “Act of Valor” is an astute and thrilling study of how a SEAL team functions. There is no star power; the operation is the star. It begins as a “simple” recovery of an abducted CIA agent and expands to the elimination of a Jihadi terrorist ring smuggling suicide bombs into the U.S.
In the process, there are high altitude egresses from C-130s at night and into open ocean; a rendezvous with a submerged attack submarine; well-coordinated ingress to enemy holdouts; fire fights; and hot extraction on river boats.
There is no hyperbole, no flash — everything is subdued, professional and very tense. You watch these guys quickly and quietly get into place; they only shoot at combatants and they hit at what they aim.
The narrative and production quality of the film is first rate — the attention to technical detail is masterful. You feel yourself part of this team’s activity. The film’s critics will judge its acting and sentimentality harshly¸ and the film is not for everyone.
It doesn’t matter. The producers have taken a subject of limited public knowledge and given it proper context.
Jim Wigge is a Cazenovia resident and long-time film aficionado. After retiring from his career as an engineer, he has shifted his focus to reviewing movies for the Cazenovia Republican. He can be reached through the editor, at firstname.lastname@example.org.