U.S. Navy SEALs and other U.S. military units are sent to destroy the worst scums on the planet.  No, not politicians — they easily destroy themselves with whores and a hidden camera.  No, not your local, cable provider — they will ultimately be destroyed by the free content online.  No, not scientologists — with Travolta’s and Cruise’s antics, recruitment has taken a big hit.  I’m talking about SEALs destroying terrorists, drug lords, arms lords, torture lords; and doing it in a spectacularly loud way!  This is “Act of Valor.”

Here’s the overall story: SEALs are ordered to save a CIA agent who has been captured by drug/arms smugglers, then find out there’s a plot by terrorists to enter America wearing bomb vests that can go through metal detectors.   Of course, the SEALs have to suit up again and find and neutralize the threats.

A big selling point of this movie is that the SEALs are played by real, active SEALs.   It sounds good for about 5 seconds, and then you realize that they probably can’t act.  Well…considering what their job description is, the SEALs in this movie did a decent job.  I’ve been in front of a camera a few times, and it’s hard work.  So to see these non-professional actors give performances better than Van Damme or Seagal, I was impressed.   Be that as it may, had good actors been used to play the SEALs, a better movie would have resulted.   There’s only so much you can do with a person whose acting ability is severely limited, which means either the script is tailored for the actor with the lack of talent; or you put all the tough, dramatic scenes in, and watch your mediocre actors stumble through those scenes, effectively destroying them.  Either way, the movie suffers, and so do the audience.

“Act of Valor” walks a fine line between the two choices I mentioned above.  The script has its dramatic moments, yet doesn’t push the SEALs beyond what they are capable of regarding their acting.  But the purpose of this movie is to show how bad ass SEALs are when they do their job; and the sacrifices they and their families make.  “Act of Valor” does a very good job in accomplishing those missions.  So, let’s talk about certain parts of this movie.

The super duper terrorist bomb vest.  As I’ve mentioned before, this can go through a metal detector undetected as it has no metal parts.  Main terrorist dude says the wearer of this vest can stroll throughout the White House with no problem.  Hmmmm…what about the bomb sniffing dogs?  Or other equipment designed to detect explosives?  No mention of that.  Still, it’s a scary prospect.   Imagine one of these nut jobs in a crowded area like a sports stadium or shopping malls where most likely there are no explosives detecting machines or doggies present.   After a few of these vests explode in various places in America, people will panic and supposedly not leave their houses.   Our economy would collapse, the main terrorist dude says.   Eh.  I don’t think so.  Look at Israel.  They still go about their business despite all the attacks upon their country.   Also, I know that I would still go to malls to take advantage of the huge discounts stores will offer to entice people to go out shopping!   The simple fact is that all of us deal with multiple threats all the time, every day.  Drunk drivers, distracted drivers, bacteria in our food, rapists, burglars, murderers, child molesters, stalkers, parasites in our meat, take your pick.   But we still go to work.  We still hang out with our friends.   We still go to the movies, attend concerts…we just become more vigilant.

For those who enjoy first person shooting video games, this movie has some shots that feel like FPS video games.  It’s a gimmick, yes, but it does add a bit more enjoyment when seeing that gun in the middle of the screen fire into a bad guy, dropping him as the blood sprays out from the wounds.   It makes you feel like you just wasted a terrorist.  “Hoo ya, Master Chief!”

Before I talk about my memorable moments of this movie, I want to quickly say that the Tagalog to English translations (most of the terrorists were Filipino, and Filipinos mainly speak Tagalog) were sometimes wrong.  I should know — I’m Filipino.  Whoever did the translations for this movie should’ve been docked a day’s pay.

Okay, on to my memorable movie moments of “Act of Valor.”  First is when the sniper of the SEAL team kills a sentry who is by a river; and another SEAL is underwater holding his arms up so that when the body falls, the SEAL catches the dead sentry and no splash is heard.  This is killing combined with art.  Simply amazing.    Second is when a rocket from an RPG-7 (I believe that’s what the weapon was) hits a SEAL in the chest, but doesn’t explode due to the warhead being a dud.  That scene will make your heart skip a beat.

And now, the third and best memorable moment — wait, spoiler alert here!   One of the SEALs has a wife at home who is pregnant.   And he gets killed sacrificing himself to save his teammates.  At first, I couldn’t believe that the movie used this cliche.  But I think the filmmakers felt it was very important to show us that many soldiers have given all for their country and teammates; and the effect that it has on their families who have to go on without them.  That isn’t a cliche.  It’s fact.

I leave you with a quote from this movie: “Live your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart. Trouble no one about his religion. Respect others in their views and demand that they respect yours. Love your life, perfect your life. Beautify all things in your life. Seek to make your life long and of service to your people. When your time comes to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with fear of death, so that when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way. Sing your death song, and die like a hero going home.”