28 February 2012

Act of Valor Movie Review

Hubby and I saw Act of Valor on Friday at the first showing in Tulsa at 11:15 a.m. (almost first showing, earliest was at one minute after midnight).  Visually, the movie is stunning. The action kept me riveted and at no time did I forget that what we were seeing is exactly what our SEALS do and how they do it once they are "downrange." Taking place in the Philippines, Somalia and Mexico, SEAL Team 7 is deployed for a mission that becomes much bigger than first judged to be. From what I have read, the story line is a merging of three actual SEAL missions.

The SEALs portrayed are real-deal SEALs, others are actors, all with one exception, Roselyn Sanchez, are fairly unknown. The unit interrogator, known as Senior has an acting career ahead of him, if he would consider such liberalized folly after living real life in the service of his country. His performance is seamless.

The rest of the team could not convince us that they are actors, but they convinced us that they are SEALs. Once the mission started, and the brotherhood-banter stopped, the men were living their job. The banter, however, told us who these men are when they are not "downrange." The dialogue is real, even if not delivered with the greatest aplomb. You understood these conversations had been had somewhere, at sometime, among SEALs somewhere.

The night before deploying "downrange," the SEAL team, with their families, gathered for a last night together on a beach. The Chief told his men (paraphrasing): if there is any problem with your family still unresolved when we deploy, we will help. While downrange, family cannot come first. The mission comes first. Let me know, and we will help. I repeat that I am paraphrasing. The sense of brotherhood is intense. The connection to the life of one, bearing on the life of another, is unmistakable. The belief in each other is inspiring.

The bad guys are two childhood friends, one a Jew, one a Muslim Jihadist. Really. The Interrogator (photo above) has a great scene with the 'Jew,' Christo. I wouldn't be surprised to learn he wrote the dialog.

Among the many scenes that gave me goosebumps were the gunboats and how they got to where they were supposed to be, and the scene of the mammoth, stealth submarine surfacing - no details. I don't want to give it away. The scene of the SEALs approaching a target in the water is as awesome as it looked in the trailer. You see how the Team stays in communication with handlers far away and it boggles the mind that the technology they use everyday to keep them alive works in these remote areas. I suspect sometimes it doesn't work. If you didn't know in advance that live ammo was used, that's too bad, because once you knew, you couldn't ignore it.

My blogger/sculptor friend David Lemon also saw Act of Valor yesterday. Here are a few of his spot-on observations he shared via email:
I went to the first showing to0...man was that theater quite at the end of the movie...no one moved. Yeah the acting wasn't award winning, but you know.. I'd rather see real people, telling their stories, rather than actors. 
Did you notice...Not a single flashback to a horrid moment in any of their lives... they were all well grounded in their belief that they were fulfilling a duty to home and country and to their fellow team mates. 
No physiological babble or deep seeded hate or drug use...No head-bandannas either.. lol Just showed our warriors as the real heroes that they are without the liberal slant that soldiers are sick in the head and killing because they have to. 
How refreshing to see a movie dealing with real situations. You never know how much goes on in secret and this shows that we are in a constant battle and it's being fought without a desire for glory, but out of a sense of duty. Thank God we have men and woman willing to lay down their lives for our freedoms and our safety.
The theater was not the largest one with a balcony, but not the smallest either. It was large and the middle section probably held at least 20 seats across with a five seat section on either side. The entire middle section, top to bottom - probably 40+ rows high, was full for the early-bird showing. It will be big here this weekend. I hope it is elsewhere.

Beyond the mission, the storyline ended predictably. I would have done it differently but it really doesn't matter how it ended, because this is about being a SEAL, what they do for you and me, for God and Country. The way it ends is not about movie critiques. It is real life played out for the families of countless SEALs and other Military heroes. I highly recommend the movie. You can take your children of any age who are capable of handling the blood and guts of war. Our children need to know.

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