Act Of Valour
Ultimately, the less said about this hilariously bad ‘Modern-War’ movie the better. However, allow me to briefly dissuade you from two of the most wasteful hours you are ever likely to spend.
A humorless celebration of the US Navy Seals that apparently draws on actual events and boasts a completely indistinguishable cast of actual soldiers, this follows a series of missions involving the rescuing of a kidnapped CIA agent, the tracking of an international terrorist and the last ditch attempt to avoid world destruction. Of course, the antagonist is a heavily bearded, ill-tempered Muslim with a passable understanding of explosives and a skinny, rat-faced, Russian-Jew, drug-smuggling accomplice who giggles and sneers and leers but actually provides no clarity on the already dubious plot. Marines on the other hand, are a hard-as-nails group of highly efficient, almost indestructible jocks, bound together by dubious sentiment and devoid of any semblance of human emotion. It’s the age-old conflict between good guy and bad guy, between Cowboy and Indian, between American and Muslim, between survival and self-sacrifice. In reality, of course, life is barely this black and white, but that’s of no concern to our dynamic filmmaking duo, first time directors Mike ‘Mouse’ McCoy and Scott Waugh.
The directors main concern is with creating authentic action and impressive technical specs, without the hindrance of attempting to humanise characters, nor are they concerned with the potential pitfalls of aggressive stereotyping or racial characterisation. The natural consequence of which is an utter lack of empathy for anyone on screen, simply because absolutely none of them exist outside of their neat, convenient catagorisation. Lazy attempts to delve deeper into the world of the archetypal modern terrorist go as far as the bad guy playing violin and the suicide bombers being Muslim Filipinos (NOT middle-eastern, don’t you know.) The directors undercut themselves dramatically by chosing to emphasise technical authenticity over character development and individual performance, employing actual Navy Seals in the primary roles lends an admittedly convincing and terrifyingly frenetic air to the combat scenes but unforgivably compromises any scene that requires more than just dead-eyed, thin-lipped delivery.
In the world of Act Of Valour, faceless, American heroes patrol the borders of the great U.S. with steely determination, mumbling incoherent cack about “loyalty” and “honor” while casually enjoying books on poetry and art (which implies more depth than their appearance would have you believe) and quoting literary icons and military leaders like isn’t at all embarrassing. The final showdown pits our angelic heroes against an unlikely combination of mustached Mexican drug cartels (whose interests are strictly withheld) and witless Filipino bomb mules as the last-gasp chance for a humanity we have to assume exists.
If the same gusto that was applied to the often breathtaking action-scenes had been applied to the moments of human interaction between soldiers, their wives and friends, then perhaps there would be something for an audience to invest in, as it happens, there isn’t and so this banal, formulaic disaster of a movie goes by without a hint of emotional resonance.
In Short: A hopelessly inept, exhaustingly jingoistic slice of U.S. Military endorsed propaganda. Completely without irony or humour, leaden with racial stereotypes and utterly forgettable, AOV claims to draw from ‘actual events’ but plays out like the next instalment of the Call Of Duty franchise, it’s greatest crime though, is to inadvertently undermine and ridicule the brave work of many soldiers.