Navy SEALs Acting in ‘Valor’

Courtesy of Relativity Media

To be aware of the sacrifices that our nation’s armed forces have made while conducting operations is an emotionally sensitive issue for many. To witness those hard decisions, as well as the men and women who carry them out, being reconstructed for cinematic purposes can also be devastating with regard to their portrayal. Essentially, any war film can be difficult for the average moviegoer to digest.

Famous examples such as “Apocalypse Now,” “Full Metal Jacket,” “Saving Private Ryan,” “Black Hawk Down” and “The Hurt Locker,” demonstrate the anguish and atrocities created by the persons involved in warfare. Whether the emphasis leans toward political or ideological, the war film functions as a means of communication; it informs the audience about the terrible outcomes caused by various human factions partaking in these destructive actions. What the viewer actually sees does not merely consist of bullets, blood and a high body count; there is also the notion that the people fighting other people to protect their own are being subjected to a process of destruction, both physical and psychological, which emerges as a natural consequence of war.

In the case of “Act of Valor,” everything moviegoers assume to know about the depiction of war changes almost instantaneously. What transpires in this unique project does not seek to convey the horror and pain as a result of armed conflict — at least, not as its primary objective. Here, the war film takes on a different definition.

“Act of Valor” focuses on the responsibilities and lifestyles of those who have dedicated their lives to protecting us from enemy threats. That being said, this film provides us with an inside look on one of America’s top covert special forces: the Navy SEALs. The SEALs get to be the center of attention here, and the audience sees not only the types of high-risk assignments they carry out, but also the camaraderie that comes with being a member of an elite fighting force and their dedication to the people they care about back home. Simply put, this is a film about SEALs and what they do.

 

Whereas most war films utilize either the home nation’s military or another country’s for the purpose of having troops as a background element while casting bankable stars in the lead roles, “Act of Valor” features active-duty SEALs as the key characters, as well as the SWCC (Special Warfare Combatant-craft Crewmen) that provide tactical support to their fellow SEALs. The use of full-fledged military personnel imbues the film with an air of realism that most actors are incapable of delivering under similar circumstances. This is where the military expresses what it actually does in contrast to its Hollywood representation.

Gratitude needs to be extended to the U.S. Navy for taking the time and effort to lend some of its brave men and women to contribute to the making of this film. If it were not for their involvement, “Act of Valor” would not have come to fruition.

Considering the presence of the mostly military personnel cast, acting chops are of no importance. To expect an Academy Award-worthy performance from any of these elite fighting persons is a ridiculous notion. Besides, it would be insulting to demand proof of method acting from full-time members of the armed forces when acting is not in their job description.

If I had to describe the quality of the cinematography in one word, it would be amazing. More often than not, the film utilizes a perspective reminiscent of first-person shooters to showcase what each SEAL prepares to do while engaging the opposition or proceeding to the objective. The combination of crane shots and long shots used for the action sequences involving SWCC vessels further serve to give us a clear idea of the distinctive resources these people use during missions.

“Act of Valor” might not qualify as an award contender in the future, but it is guaranteed to allow the viewer to see the SEALs for what they really are and how they put their lives on the line for the safety of others. In the end, it accomplishes its mission.

Rating: 4 out of 5