Act of Valor
At first glance, "Act of Valor" looks like nothing more than military propaganda. Cast with real Navy SEALS, the film follows one crew of men as they find themselves embroiled with a drug lord; in their attempts to rescue a federal agent he captured. Filled with sentimental voiceovers, slow-motion acts of heroism, and silk-smooth depictions of the military's makeup, the film will appear to many as nothing more than an elongated, expensive recruitment video. On one level, they would be correct.
But that would be to ignore all of the incredible things directors Mike McCoy and Scott Waugh do behind the camera. There visuals can occasionally be muddy and they cut too quickly, but considering the unhinged energy of some of these scenes, who can complain! One sequence, where a number of jumpers dives out of a plane, has been burned into my retinas since I saw the film in theaters. And the use of real SEALS truly pays off in the combat - where an actor would play these life-or-death moments as self-important, the enlisted men (credited by first name only) simply play them as part of the process.
The recently released Blu-ray contains more than enough special features to satisfy fans of the film, with a director's commentary and a number of featurettes shedding light on the making of the film. But it's the deleted scenes that are worth hunting down; with a number of them displaying more of the jargon-based dialogue that felt so alive and real in the finished film. And, of course, this Blu-ray transfer brings out all the tiniest details in this HD-sourced film. "Act of Valor" may be jingoistic, and it may be a recruitment ad. But I'll be damned if it isn't a good one.
"Act of Valor"
Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack