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Act of Valor (Blu-ray Review)

25 May, 2012 By: John Latchem

Street 6/5/12
Box Office $69.92 million
$29.98 DVD, $39.99 Blu-ray
‘R’ for strong violence including some torture, and for language.
Stars U.S. Navy SEALs, Roselyn Sanchez, Alex Veadov, Jason Cottle, Nester Serrano.

The makers of Act of Valor have a clear goal in mind and largely achieve it, and that’s to pay tribute to the sacrifices of the men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces. This isn’t a film that relies on subtlety in its depiction of war as a brutal endeavor, where even those highly trained to master it rarely emerged unscathed.

Act of Valor feels like a weird hybrid of an action movie and a documentary, following an anonymous cast of characters portrayed by active-duty Navy SEALs whose names are not revealed in the credits. But, the film is bound to get under the skin of some politically sensitive viewers since the story combines two hot-button issues — the global war on terror and illegal immigration.

It begins with a nasty bit of business in the Philippines in which terrorists assassinate an American ambassador by blowing up a group of kids with a rigged ice cream truck at a private school.

The mastermind of the attack may be linked to a Russian drug dealer who captures a CIA agent (Roselyn Sanchez) in Costa Rica, prompting SEAL Team 7 to extract her. The intel they gather from the rescue op uncovers a plot to smuggle untraceable explosive vests through Mexico into the United States and detonate them in major cities to incite a panic that could collapse the economy Various SEAL Teams are subsequently sent to disrupt the plot as it unfolds across several international locales from Somalia to the South Pacific Sea.

The script telegraphs its story arcs with a framing device of a letter being read and a running gag about the team leader’s wife being pregnant. But the action sequences are exquisitely staged, a carefully choreographed ballet of bullets that demonstrate a masterful sense of timing by co-directors Mike “Mouse” McCoy and Scott Waugh (known collectively as The Bandito Brothers).

The kinetic pacing relies a lot on first-person POV camera angles and at times the fight scenes seem almost like a video game. According to the commentary with the directors, most of the action scenes are based on actual stories told to the filmmakers by the SEALs they interviewed while researching the film. In fact, a lot of the dialogue was crafted by the SEALs based on how they would treat the given situation.

The DVD also includes about nine minutes of deleted scenes. The Blu-ray includes all the DVD extras and a number of behind-the-scenes featurettes and interviews with the SEALs.

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