Act of Valor

“It’s propaganda…but I liked it. A lot.” So sayeth The Boy regarding Act of Valor, the special ops action movie featuring actual special ops guys.

It is propaganda, of the sort Hollywood used to turn out pretty regularly: Pro-America movies about our kick-ass soldiers saving the world from the bad guys.

It’s also the coolest movie in I don’t know how long. As someone who could see the US go back to not having a standing army, it still was amazing to see all the cool hardware our troops have. The action is cooler than the other side of the pillow (I’m bringing the ‘90s back, one tired expression at a time!)

It’s also the most macho movie I’ve seen in a long time, including The Expendables. There’s actually a fair amount of emotion in it, with the guys going to do the stuff they have to do, even if it means possibly widowing their wives and leaving their children without fathers.

But the entertainment factor is the attention to detail as the special forces guys go off to save a victim of torture or to stop a madman from releasing splodeydopes into the US. There’s all kinds of stuff you just don’t see in your regular action flick.

This has gotten some negative buzz: It’s a little clunky in some of the scenes, especially the ones showing “the guys” hanging out and talking natural. It was weird, because the dialog sounded realistic enough, and the delivery was pretty natural. But “natural” sounds weird unless the sound editing is really crisp, and the mix is a little off here at times.

The characters were hard for me to keep track of, as well, but I felt like it really didn’t matter. The whole thing has a feeling of it being about the job, and the traditional narrative approach of informing the audience about this character or that so that they feel the drama more when tragedy strikes—although that’s used here, it’s superfluous.

Why? Because they’re all human beings. They’re all heroes. One getting wounded or killed is a loss and a tragedy, whether you know his “back story” or not. They could’ve left the back story out completely, I think.

But maybe that’s just me.

On the other hand, when you hear negative press about this, consider the Rotten Tomatoes rating: Critics, 25%. Moviegoers, 80%. Critics couldn’t possibly love this film: It’s an action film, it’s fiercely pro-American (though nobody expounds on American superiority, it’s kinda self-evident), the villains are largely Muslim, etc.

We enjoyed the hell out of it. And our admiration tended to grow over time. It’s easily re-watchable, to boot.

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