Act of Valor
Reviewed by: Julia Webster
Action Adventure Thriller
1 hr. 41 min.
Year of Release:
February 24, 2012 (wide—3,000+ theaters)
DVD: June 5, 2012
“Real heroes. Real tactics. Real action. This is no game.”
“Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken” –Ecclesiastes 4:12.
The strength of a cord of three strands is the essence of what comes to soldiers fighting wars together. “Act of Valor” is the story of men standing up for themselves, each other, their families, and their country with a fearlessness unmatched by most Americans. It is a unique film, in that it stars real-life, active-duty Navy SEALS as actors in the lead roles. In fact, the professional actors, such as Roselyn Sanchez as a CIA agent and Alex Veadov as the head of a drug cartel, have fairly minor roles and limited screen time. The main character in the film, however, is the special effects.
Directed by two movie stunt men, Mike McCoy and Scott Waugh, and written by Kurt Johnstad (“300”), “Act of Valor” provides plenty of explosive action, with a plot that is relatively easy to follow. The story centers around a military task force on a mission to defeat suicide terrorists about to enter the United States with a new bomb that can be hidden well. The jihadists have joined with a drug cartel, in order to smuggle the devices over the border, where they intend to detonate them in several large U.S. cities.
Using beautiful cinematography of site locations throughout the world, the SEALs perform many various operations, as they pursue their enemies. Following the personal story of the men as they perform their military duty brings the audience into the middle of the fray. “For You,” the film’s beautiful theme song, written and performed by Australian Keith Urban, reflects the story and the characters well. Using Jesus’ oft-quoted words from John 15:13: “No greater love has man, than to lay down his life for love,” the lyrics also voice the question undoubtedly in the hearts and minds of the men: “I wonder could I give my life, Could I make the sacrifice?” Throughout the story, as the men fight their battles selflessly, they vividly carry out Paul’s words from Romans 12:10, “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.”
The camaraderie and support the men have for each other is inspiring and very moving. Before leaving on their mission, the soldiers are seen spending time together with their friends and families. Two of the men are close friends; one of them is the father of five children and the other has just found out his wife is expecting their first child. The heart-wrenching partings depicted reflect the men’s feelings as they embark on their dangerous mission. They bring with them mementos of their brave soldier fathers’, remembering that “love is stronger than death.” (Song of Solomon 8:6)
Though the script is rather thin, the dialog is mainly used to lead from one action sequence to another, and film goers looking for excitement will not be disappointed. The cinematography and soundtrack help to create plenty of suspense between scenes of quiet stealth, daring raids, and heart-stopping rescues. There are also many spectacular shots of explosions and firefights. Viewers should be aware of scenes depicting graphic brutality, including some torture sequences. Unfortunately, even the SEALs can be murderous (“There is not a righteous man on earth who does what is right and never sins,” —Ecclesiastes 7:20). On the other hand, they are occasionally shown being humane to civilians and avoiding killing when they can.
The profanity in the film is in line with the military characters, and so is fairly heavy, though the misuse of the Lord’s name is limited to just a couple of times. In fact, by contrast, one shot shows the words “In God we Trust” written on a soldier’s helmet.
“Act of Valor” is a movie well worth seeing. For those who may have witnessed air shows, toured museums, or seen other demonstrations of the power of the U.S. military and displays of the state-of-the-art equipment used in the defense of our country and our allies around the world, “Act of Valor” will have the same qualities of showmanship. As Christians, though, we know the best and most important armor is the not made by man, but by God, as outlined in Ephesians 6:10-17.
The Navy SEALs, both the real men and the characters they portray in “Act of Valor” are certainly American heroes. We should be awed by and proud of them and thankful that these brave men continue to be “strong and courageous,” (Deuteronomy 31:6) as they fight diligently for our freedom.
Violence: Heavy / Profanity: Moderate / Sex/Nudity: Mild
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