At the Movies: Act of Valor

If there was ever a move that should be critic-proof, it’s “Act of Valor.” A movie about Navy Seals starring Navy Seals? Even if it was crap, who would be crazy enough to badmouth a movie about Navy Seals starring Navy Seals?

First of all, it would be un-American and probably treasonous. But more importantly — who wants to piss off the Navy Seals? Do you know how hard those people train? Do you know what they’re trained to do? Do you know what film critics do? Sit on their asses in dark theaters for hours. When the war breaks out between movie critics and Navy Seals, I know which side I want to be on.

So, coward that I am, I figured the best thing to do was skip seeing “Act of Valor” and go see the latest Jennifer Aniston comedy. After all, it’s always open season for making fun of Jennifer Aniston. What’s she going to do, sic Justin Theroux on me?  (I don’t even know who that is — I had to Wikipedia Aniston to find out who she’s currently dating.)

But then last week a commercial for “Act of Valor” comes on and The Wife says, “I’d like to see that.”

Now, rarely does The Wife go to movies with me. In fact, in order to get The Wife to go to a movie with me, it must feature one of three things:

1. Jane Austen adaptation

2. William Shakespeare adaptation

3. Hobbits

And now, apparently, Navy Seals. Since it is so rare that The Wife wants to go to a movie, I punted the Jennifer Aniston flick and we headed to Ronnie’s Cine to watch a movie about Navy Seals starring Navy Seals.

please don’t suck. please don’t suck. please don’t suck.

Well, I can honestly say that, at least as far as The Wife and I are concerned, “Act of Valor” didn’t suck. Oh, it has its flaws and it certainly isn’t the greatest combat movie ever made, but it delivered some intense action sequences and the onscreen talent — while no threat to Sir Laurence Olivier in the acting realm — had their own charisma.

And let’s face it, if this movie had been made with real actors, it would have been the Arnold Schwarzenegger/Chuck Norris type and they’re hardly a threat to Olivier’s legacy either. (And that’s right — I won’t diss Navy Seals but I have no fear of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Chuck Norris.)

As to the story — a CIA operative is kidnapped by a drug lord who can connect him to a terrorist. Said terrorist is plotting a major act of violence on American soil. The Seals are sent in to rescue the CIA agent and then stop the terrorist. Not too deep a plot but sufficient for this kind of action-thriller.

The movie is at its best when its focused on the action and the Seals doing their job. The rescue sequence that opens the film was especially intense. It’s probably more entertaining if you’re fluent in military lingo.

“Act of Valor” wears its heart on its sleeve and makes no secret about being a big, red-white-and-blue love letter to the military. (The film even opens with a brief interview with the directors talking about what an honor it was to work with the Navy Seals.) If that kind of thing bothers you, stay far away. If you like your patriotism mixed with high-octane violence and sappy sentimentality, you’ll probably enjoy it.



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