2 reasons ‘Act of Valor’ didn’t work…and 1 reason it did

Act of Valor (2012)

Directed by Mike McCoy, Scott Waugh

5/10  R

Yesterday I took the time to check out cinema’s new take on the war movie, “Act of Valor,” which stars active-duty Navy SEALS and few professional actors. It didn’t work for me. Here’s why…

1. The intended audience is too specific – “Act of Valor” panders to conservative, patriotic, American, middle-aged men, veterans of all ages and genders, and few others. It offers simplified, unintelligent (did I mention 100% genuine?) dialogue, egregious amounts of guns, and country music. If you read this while clutching your guns and religion tightly (and most of my blogroll probably isn’t, let’s be honest), “Act of Valor” will be a hoot and a half.

2. The SEALS themselves – It’s an ingenious novelty, an unexplored mine that had to be touched. I’ll give them that. But once is enough. The lack of command in their stiff, wooden delivery was enough to make me shudder. I love our servicemen and women as much as the next guy, don’t get me wrong – and I didn’t expect too much, since their acting experience was minimal – but I can only hope that this novel experiment has reached its end. Their dialogue had to be minimal, since hearing nothing but gunfire was often better than hearing them try to act. Their dreadful script didn’t help, but it was fairly realistic. Lame jokes, awkward jests, small-talk about family and home, Navy jargon.

But “Act of Valor” did have something worth seeing…

1. Authentic action sequences – Who better than active-duty Navy SEALS to fight in a war movie, use expensive weaponry, fight evil, and save human lives? Nobody, that’s who. Despite the fact that their acting is sub-par, these men and women can provide suspenseful, action-packed scenes that’ll get your blood pumping. But isn’t there a happy medium? Maybe casting actors who had once been in the military could provide that perfect blend of acting experience and field experience. Granted, actors that have served aren’t as easy to come by as they were 60 years ago (Jimmy Stewart, Clark Gable, etc.), but I found a few names. Rob Riggle tends to act in more comedic roles (“Step Brothers,” for instance), but before that he served as an officer in the Marines. And Ice-T (who stars in more dramatic roles) and MC Hammer (who starred with Ice-T in 2001’s “Deadly Rhapsody,” and a couple other small roles) served in the Army and Navy, respectively. Those are just the C-list stars. There’s plenty of D-listers and amateurs waiting to make a list that would be a better fit. “Act of Valor” took a courageous step in casting these brave men and women, but they do a much better serving our country than serving our cinematic desires.

“Act of Valor” is now on DVD and Blu-ray.

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