“Act of Valor” Isn’t About Acting, It’s About Valor

By | March 1, 2012 | 2 Comments

The film “Act of Valor” opened on Feb. 24. The film is a sort of docudrama. Most of the persons in it are not actors but active-duty SEALs. The film shows episodes that are based on actual SEAL operations, using actual SEAL equipment and tactics.
Obviously, I didn’t go to such an unusual − in fact, unique − movie expecting to see polished actors reciting unrealistic dialog written by screenwriters who never heard a shot fired in anger, or fired at all. I went expecting to see real special operators demonstrating their remarkable skills and superb equipment, as well as the valor and comradeship for which they are justly famous.
But I’m not a film critic, and I’m certainly not a liberal film critic − which is almost redundant. The majority of critics viewed the film unfavorably, using terms like “jingoistic” and “recruiting poster.” They belittled the acting of the men who are not actors, but paid less attention to the abilities and qualities that the men do have in abundance.
On a scale of 0-100, audiences liked the film, with an average rating of 85 for 9,584 viewers. But reviewers were a different matter, with 86 of them giving the film an average rating of only 30. The difference is striking, again demonstrating that the mainstream media are left-wing and pacifist when compared with the general public.
Though the film was panned by most critics, it was number one at the box office its first weekend, taking in $24,477,000, as contrasted with number two, “Perry Tyler’s Good Deeds,” which earned $15,584,000. Once again, we see that portraying real good deeds will attract an audience.
And once again, we see one reason that the movies are dying. Hollywood insists on making movies to please itself rather than the audience. True, if they made more movies that exemplified American values, they would make more money. But amazingly, there is something even more important than money to them − being invited to lunches and cocktail parties by their colleagues. When political correctness and group-think trump money, you know they are powerful indeed.
Here is a sample of professional reviews collected by Rotten Tomatoes:

I don’t know what to make of Act of Valor. It’s like reviewing a recruiting poster.
February 25, 2012
Peter Travers
Rolling Stone 

The special ops missions are pretty amazing, but the SEALS as dramatic characters are under-developed.
February 24, 2012
Richard Roeper
Richard Roeper.com 

The bad guys, who specialize in funny beards, funny accents, and shaved heads, would feel right at home in an Austin Powers movie.
February 24, 2012
Peter Rainer
Christian Science Monitor 

As a piece of filmed entertainment, “Act of Valor” will never be mistaken for “Top Gun,” but it’s a heck of a recruitment video.
February 24, 2012
Rafer Guzman

A documentary OR an action/drama honoring the missions of our Navy SEALs could have been good. But instead of OR, they tried AND. It fails.
February 27, 2012
Jeff Bayer
The Scorecard Review 

Seriously authentic yet fragmented, it’s never clear whether it’s recruitment propaganda or a ponderous, vaguely comprehensible documentary.
February 25, 2012
Susan Granger
SSG Syndicate 

At the end of the day, this is a long-winded SEALs recruitment tool, a noble gesture that’s just not sufficient basis for a feature film.
February 24, 2012
Robert Levin
Film School Rejects 

These are the dudes who killed Bin Laden and take down Somali pirates for breakfast, so to see the real guys in action, even in a movie as ridiculous as this, is a sight to behold.
February 24, 2012
Mathew DeKinder
St. Louis Post-Dispatch 

Recruitment videos are designed to be simplistic, one-sided and artless, but that approach is a failure when expanded into a narrative feature.
February 24, 2012
Josh Bell
Las Vegas Weekly 

Viewers with little appetite for thrill-of-the-kill war games may just decide to let this macho military parade march on by.
February 24, 2012
Neil Pond
American Profile 

Like all advertisements, this scripted movie is a perfect fantasy: expertly coordinated, simplistic (the bad guys like yachts and bikini girls, while our heroes have loving families) and more than a little scary.
February 24, 2012
Joshua Rothkopf
Time Out New York

No, what’s more than a little scary is that our media are filled with − no, infiltrated by − people who, unlike the majority of Americans, hold our military in contempt, and may even hold the ideals they fight and die for in contempt as well.
What’s more than a little scary is that the people who shape our opinions − or try to − believe that people join the military for the “thrill of the kill,” rather than to dedicate their lives to a cause greater than themselves.
What’s more than a little scary is that our media see anything positive about our military as a “recruitment poster,” as if that were necessarily a bad thing.
What’s more than a little scary is that our media see a pro-American film as “one-sided,” yet they see a host of anti-American films from the “Bourne” series on down as fair and objective.
And what’s more than a little scary is that our media see terrorists as resembling “characters in an Austin Powers movie.” After all, we should try to see the terrorists’ “point of view,” because they have “legitimate grievances.”
Yes, and I have grievances, too. But something restrains me from venting my anger by blowing up innocent men, women, and children. It’s called a conscience. It comes from being taught to have good values. Oh wait, I almost forgot. For the most part, Hollywood stopped trying to portray good values in the 1960s, and went on to produce a myriad of films about monsters, hitchhikers, chainsaws, vampires, and werewolves − not to mention films about corrupt, sadistic cops; deranged, bloodthirsty soldiers; and brainless, sex-obsessed adults who act like drunken teenagers.
For but one of many examples, take “Syriana,” a film about corrupt, back-stabbing American officials in the Middle East. The only sympathetic character is a young suicide bomber whose goal is to destroy an oil terminal that will bring his nation wealth. So much for our foreign policy.
Or take “Training Day,” a film about a police officer who is involved with drug dealers, and who arranges to have his partner murdered when the partner discovers this. So much for our domestic situation.
And then there is “Michael Clayton,” a film about how our corporations produce lethal products, then try to murder those who want to expose this fact. So much for our businesses.
Don’t forget “Godfather Part III,” a film that shows Catholic clergy as corrupt or actually homicidal. So much for our religion.
Last but not least, we have “Brothers,” a film about an officer reported killed in Afghanistan. His brother arrives to help the widow and her two young children. The brother falls in love with the woman, and the children quickly accept him. But the officer was captured and remained alive by killing a fellow Marine. When the officer comes home, his wife greets him coolly, and a daughter blurts, “Why couldn’t you stay dead?” The officer brandishes a pistol and winds up in the psychiatric ward. This film manages to defame both our military and our family structure.
These films were critically acclaimed, unlike “Act of Valor.” And so it goes.
Perhaps it is forgivable that people associated with show business are more interested in acting than in valor. But what is less forgivable is that we allow such people to shape our world view. And what is utterly unforgivable is that we allow them to shape the opinions of those in other nations. Who knows how much anti-American emotion is evoked by the anti-American output of Hollywood? What kind of fools pick people who disrespect them to be their advertising agents?
Dr. Stolinsky writes on political and social issues. Contact: dstol@prodigy.net. You are welcome to publish or post these articles, provided that you cite the author and website.


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