Originally conceived as a short documentary project produced back in 2007 on Special Warfare Combatant-craft Crewman before it eventually grew into a cinematic movie, Mike McCoy and Scott Waugh's ACT OF VALOR (making their feature-length debut) is no doubt something to look forward to. Among the highly publicized and greatest hook of this would-be potential blockbuster is none others than casting actual active-duty Navy SEALs as lead roles -- the first of its kind ever seen in Hollywood movie. Unfortunately, this is as far as the effective gimmick can go -- ACT OF VALOR may have been well-intended but the movie is sadly misses its target due to flimsy script and bad acting.
The movie begins with a brief narrative by one of the SEALs named Dave (who only goes by his first name, as well as everyone in the unit does to protect their real identity) explaining about heroism and brotherhood he spends time working with his fellow members including his leader Lt. Rorke, Sonny, Weimy, Ray, Ajay, Mikey and top interrogator Van O.
Their first mission sees them transported into Central America to rescue a captured CIA agent named Morales (Roselyn Sanchez), who is earlier abducted in Costa Rica during her pursuit of international smuggling kingpin Christo (Alex Veadov). After rescued Morales successfully, they discover that the mastermind behind the abduction and the earlier terrorist bombing attack on an American school which also killed a U.S. ambassador in the Philippines, are orchestrated by a smuggler named Christo (Alex Veadov) and a Islamic extremist named Karimov (Dimiter Marinov). Both of them eventually joined forces to transport 18 suicide bombers in strategic locations across the United States, by wearing a specially-made vest which contain explosive devices. Their goal is to kill thousands of people and create a world economic havoc.
The biggest problem about ACT OF VALOR is Kurt Johnstad's (300) terribly incoherent script. The entire movie is stuffed with lots of painful cliches, while every individual scene feels like they are clumsily slapped together without even bother to develop the storyline in an efficient way. The characters, in the meantime, are thinly-drawn stereotypes. While casting Navy SEALs as lead actors is a bold move, it hardly matters anyway since they lacked the necessary acting chops to make them least memorable. Even the involvement of real actors here (especially the villains) are strictly one-dimensional caricatures you often seen in any B-grade action flicks.
The only saving grace here is the action sequence. Even so, they are not particularly as memorable as the aggressive marketing campaign suggested at the first place. Despite the inclusion of some very impressive military hardware and real bullet usages, most of the action scenes are favored over shaky camerawork (shot digitally on the Canon 5D Mark II by Shane Hurlbut) for the sake to evoke gritty realism. Not surprisingly some of the scenes are difficult to understand what is going on in the screen, especially with all the rapid-fire and messy editing involved.
While ACT OF VALOR does have its moment of visceral thrills, the movie is overall a disappointment.