Much like the Special Air Service during the London Iranian Embassy action (and the movie that followed, Who Dares Wins), the US Navy SEALs were fully exposed to the glare of publicity when they raided a compound in Pakistan and killed Osama Bin Laden. Now comes a film of the unit’s exploits, but with a twist: it stars actual, active duty, Navy SEALs.
What happens is that a serviceable plot supported by magnificent action scenes of real excitement is held together by dramatic scenes where it is quite obvious why these men are SEALs and not actors. The story begins in South America where a young CIA operative is investigating a drug baron with possible ties to international terrorism. She is kidnapped, which triggers a tension-filled covert infiltration by the SEALs to rescue her. When things don’t go exactly to plan, the film quite well demonstrates how these men have to think fast and act faster.
The actual plot, involving terrorists sneaking into the US via Mexico, is told in broad strokes with very little time given to what motivates these people to perform such acts. The SEAL team involved in the hunt globe hop between continents as they track down their enemy, each stop an opportunity for a well orchestrated action scene. The battles feel very real and these men carry themselves with confidence and perform all their moves the way they would in real life. It’s just the scenes where they need to talk to each other or their families carry little weight. It’s hard to fault them; those in the services around the world all easily identify with the scenes of leaving on deployment or shared camaraderie. But one can’t help feeling that given the focus on two “main” members – the others have their roles but are more background characters – that perhaps a couple of professional actors would have lifted the film above some of its troubles.
If you’re into the actions or gear of warfare, if having a look “behind the curtain” of the Navy SEALs is what you are after, then Act of Valor is worth it.