Act of Valor
Directors: Mike McCoy, Scott Waugh
Starring: Roselyn Sanchez, Alex Veadov
The viewer is thrown into action-packed warfare in Act of Valor, following a group of Navy Seals tasked to rescue a kidnapped colleague from a Chechen smuggler, whose connection to an international terrorist leads to a mission to thwart an attack on US soil.
Real Navy Seals are cast as themselves for this fictitious mission, and while their real-life achievements are more than worthy of admiration, they appear in a film that celebrates them in a way that seems somewhat hollow.
There is no commentary on what sort of effect war has on a soldier, nor the role of the troops in a world where the lines between right and wrong are blurred in international politics.
Instead, we have an action-packed adventure that showcases their operational prowess against villains that are far from realistic, seemingly ripped from countless generic action films.
The Seals themselves are somewhat stiff (particularly during their personal moments with family), and while this is hardly their fault, they add to the feeling that we are being shown a very polished, but not entirely honest, picture of their lives.
To call it propaganda would be too harsh an assessment, but it's very clear that Act of Valor intends to show the US Army in the most positive light possible. In doing so, however, it also forgoes any attempt to offer a balanced perspective on the big questions surrounding modern warfare. Although likely to delight patriotic American audiences, it will leave everyone else indifferent.