CTD Mike Goes to the Movies—Act of Valor

By CTD Mike published on in General

Act of Valor is a different kind of action movie. The crew who made it call themselves the Bandito Brothers. They originally made a recruiting video for the U.S. Navy, I am that Man, back in 2009. Among other things, that video showed a live-fire extraction of U.S. Navy SEALs by Special Warfare Combat Crewman in heavily armed fast boats, and it was extremely well done. Having proved to the Navy that they were trustworthy, they set out to make the mother of all recruiting videos using real Navy personnel, and the result is Act of Valor. The movie’s official status as a recruitment video allowed the Bandito Brothers to feature active duty Navy SEALs in all the starring roles, backed up by the finest men and women and coolest equipment ever brought to the big screen. I know, because I saw it in a sneak preview two weeks ago, and I can’t wait to see it again.

WARNING: If you don’t want any “spoilers” then stop reading here and go see the movie!

With that out of the way, bad news first: real life Navy SEALs can’t act. These guys are soldiers, so don’t expect great dialogue delivered by great actors. The story centers around two operators who have almost all the speaking parts. Most of the SEALs don’t say anything much at all. For example, there’s a sniper who certainly looks like a hard dude, but his only lines are like “I’m on it” and “target acquired.” He usually says this right before bad guys start falling left and right to his suppressed M110 sniper rifle. The movie plays out like a video game, with cutscenes of dialogue in between the missions. The plot is completely stereotypical and is there only to tie the missions together in a coherent and entertaining way. The Bandito Brothers started with five real-life missions that they wanted to re-tell, and wrote the fictional overall story afterward. The flip side of this is that everything you see happen to a Navy SEAL in Act of Valor has happened to a real Navy SEAL sometime in the past 10 years. Incidentally, when you see the men saying goodbye to their wives and children as they deploy, that’s real too. It’s moving stuff.

I’m very happy to say that the bad guys are really bad, not just misunderstood. They want to bring a group of suicide bombers to the USA via Mexico and blow stuff up here. That’s it. The movie doesn’t go ridiculous with nuclear suitcase bombs or biological weapons that will wipe out humanity—extremists with high explosives are enough. There is also no “blame the USA” here, which I’ve seen enough of in Hollywood recently. We don’t deserve the wrath of suicide bombers because of our oil policy or our foreign entanglements or whatever. Those suicide bombers need to be shot with M4 carbines at close range, and these SEALs are just the men to do it. That’s the part where Act of Valor really, really shines. Folks, when it comes to action scenes I’m as picky as they get. Name any action movie and I will point out the mistakes and flaws. I laughed my butt off at Bruce Willis’ backward-mounted Aimpoint in Tears of the Sun. However, these are real SEALs shooting live ammo—when the same fast boat guys from I Am That Man show up and turn a couple of old trucks into flaming hulks, the tracers you see are the real deal, not special effects. The weapons handling, reloads, shooting positions, equipment, it’s all meticulously brought to life. Some of the filming took place with high-definition helmet cams placed in the boots of real SEALs. You get to watch them as they kick down doors and clear room after room. One of the first things you’ll see the SEALs do is a “listening halt” in the middle of the jungle. Anyone with basic infantry training knows how important periodic listening halts are, but have you ever seen one in an action movie before? When it comes to realism, Act of Valor hits a home run with me.

The insert and extraction sequences are worth the price of admission alone. The Bandito Brothers had unprecedented access to real Navy SEAL stuff. For example, the NAVY allowed them four hours to film on-board a submarine, with an underwater SEAL Delivery Vehicle attached. It is pretty dark in one of those things once the sliding canopy closes–you’ll see it through a helmet cam. You’ll see HALO jumps from C-130s, fast roping from Sea Hawk helicopters, a boat chase featuring those wicked looking Mark V Special Operations Craft, and even a ratty old Mexican dump truck. I think they stole that last one.

Act of Valor’s climax is an act of ultimate sacrifice that pays tribute to Michael Monsoor. The NAVY posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor to his parents in 2008.
I’m not going to lie, seeing it happen punched me in the gut because I knew Monsoor did it for real, giving up his life to save his fellow troops. The good guys save the day, but a price has to be paid for protecting the rest of us. The movie concludes with a powerful funeral scene. This must have been difficult to film with the real servicemen and their families. They surely have attended many military funerals in the past decade. I got some dust in my eye just then, if you know what I mean. I believe that veterans who have lost buddies in the field are likely to choke up as well.

I recommend Act of Valor with no reservations. I’m going to see it again and I believe it deserves better than what it’s likely to get at the box office. Grab your friends, grab your popcorn, and cheer on the Navy SEALs as they take down bad guys around the world, one 5.56 round at a time.

Act of Valor

Some bad guy is about to get the business end. Screen capture from Act of Valor.

Trackback from your site.

The mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, "The Shooter's Log," is to provide information-not opinions-to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (10)

  • JSW

    |

    I had the honor of treating all the men in my family to this movie last night. Due to a snowstorm that dropped 12 inches of white, there were only 4WD vehicles in the theater lot: and all patrons were there to see Act Of Valor.
    Wonderful movie, for the action and the message in the dialogue and letter. Even the men who hadn’t been in the service liked this movie. For us vets, there was a lot of nostalgia evinced in our table talk afterwards.
    And the desert scene when the terrorist transfer is taking place… the camera being used was a Canon 20D- which really dated the period. Also, Canon cameras were used to shoot this rather than the big-box movie cams.
    I’ve heard (may be rumor, but a good one) that most the money garnered by this movie will be going to the SpecOps groups.

    Reply

  • JoJo

    |

    Don’t usually spend money supporting Hollywood, but I read an article that the HuffPost hated it. That means it must be great! Will gladly spend my $8.50 on this one!

    Reply

  • ervin

    |

    I am a navy vet and have served with navy seal I love who they are and what they do. Can hardley wait to see the move! Thanks to all that has served.

    Reply

  • Kevin

    |

    It way exceeded my expectations and then some. Not just a action movie, it had soul. Got bless all who serve, served and especially all who have lost their lives defending our country. RIP dad, you were not a Seal but you were in the Navy and a hero in my mind.

    Kevin

    Reply

  • Tiernan

    |

    Saw it Friday afternoon, and the Sailors featured in it aren’t actors, at best its porn quality acting in the beginning (it gets better as the movie progresses. Its well worth the admission price for the first mission, especially when the SWCC Boats show up.

    Reply

  • Sean

    |

    I went to couple of Navy schools(not High School) with one of the Seals in the the movies. He’s a good guy said about as much in the movie as he did in class. Got to work with the Seals a lot. I heard of the movies awhile back glad to see it all together. Seemed like a live action Call of Duty in some scenes. I also watched the techniques used in the movie to see if there was the Hollywood spin or mess ups. Flawless muscle memory in their tactics IBT to the fullest. Like previously stated the acting is not going to win any Oscars but shows the commitment and dedication of servicemen not just SEALS. SPECWAR numbers are down due to the fatties produced by Xbox, PS3, The PC and other gaming venues. Hopefully this movie motivates the kids together motivated and replace us old guys. Happy Huntin’

    P.S. Cheeper Than Dirt I rep you guys wherever I go, and I swing in the store when Im home on leave. love you guys

    Reply

  • Joe

    |

    This movie was Awesome. I liked the way it was shot and the end credit sequence was the best. I also liked how it showed the relationship between two warriors who are responsible for the well being of their brothers. I also read the novelization of the movie and definitely liked the movie better.

    Reply

  • Chevy

    |

    This was a fantastic movie, filled with high action and the demonstraition of Silent Professional in their best!!!
    I love it!
    HOOYAA

    BZ men, CM

    Reply

  • Dennis

    |

    Saw the movie yesterday. Thought it was the best action movie I’ve seen. The Seals may not win any Oscars for acting, but I thought they did a pretty good job considering they aren’t professional actors… And that last scene…I had more than a speck of dust in my eyes, if you know what I mean. You don’t have to be ex-military to have that dust problem. ….Thank God these guys are on our side!

    Reply

  • Kevin

    |

    Sorry, I can’t read this yet. Going to see the movie today but what I have seen with the trailers it is going to be awesome. I will report back later.

    Kevin

    Reply

Leave a comment

Your discussions, feedback and comments are welcome here as long as they are relevant and insightful. Please be respectful of others. We reserve the right to edit as appropriate, delete profane, harassing, abusive and spam comments or posts, and block repeat offenders. All comments are held for moderation and will appear after approval.

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload the CAPTCHA.

%d bloggers like this: