Film review: ACTS OF VALOUR, from Built For Speed

There have been plenty of films about US Special Forces battling terrorists and drug lords and most of these have involved outrageous, cartoonish propaganda, racially stereotyped bad guys, simplistic, biased notions of world conflict and Chuck Norris.  Acts of Valour has all these things, minus the Chuck Norris.  For many critics this film is an abomination but it’s not designed for Fitzroy latte set, it’s for blokes who wear Tap out t-shirts and who love shoot ‘em up video games (which this film often resembles) and TV shows like 24.  For these viewers the film’s relentless action sequences and military hardware will be just the ticket.

There is a plot of sorts although it’s really just a vague jumping off point for the action scenes. When a CIA agent is captured by terrorists in Costa Rica, a Navy Seal team are called in to extract her.  They discover, however, that her abduction is linked to a bigger and more sinister terrorist plot.

With the emphasis on shootings there’s little attempt at character development although much of the film is seen through the eyes of two seal officers Rorke and Dave.  The novelty here is that these two and nearly all other cast members are real Navy Seals rather than actors.  This has the dual effect of making the film more realistic but also quite laughable due to the SEAL’s wooden performances.  Unwisely, the film also has one of SEAL’s delivering an annoying, flaky voice-over which, as my co-presenter CJ pointed out, sounds like wrestler the late Randy Macho Man Savage.

The film apparently began life as a Navy approved training/ recruitment film and this is pretty obvious from its fierce yet methodical battle scenes and SEAL-speak dialogue.  This, however, doesn’t stop the film lurching into the sillier, more offensive reaches of the Hollywood fantasy world.  This is particularly true of the clichéd bad guys who include a sleazy, long-haired Miami Vice-style drug lord and an overly intense, wild-eyed Chechen terrorist leader. There’s also the laughable depiction of terrorist vs. US interrogation techniques, the terrorists use driller-killer style torture while the US military apparently just use sarcasm.

We can pontificate all we like about this film’s sins but hard core war movie fans will just dismiss these quibbles as pinko clap trap and revel in the film’s admittedly well-staged scenes of destruction.


Directors: Mike McCoy, Scott Waugh

Released: 3rd May 2012

Running time:  110 mins.

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