Act of Valor is one of those poor films in which the production details are altogether far more interesting that what has ultimately ended up on screen.
The plot, what little there is of it, has U.S. Navy SEALS sent on a mission to extract a captured CIA agent from South America. Upon completion they discover a plan by drug cartels to launch an assault on American soil that may also include Al-Qaeda too.
The not-so-surprising thing about this piece of (what is ultimately) American flag-waving propaganda, is that it was produced with full co-operation from the U.S. Navy. The leads are all active NavySEALS (this being the reason why their names are absent from the cast listing) and were so throughout the duration of, what became a 2 year, production. It was shot on pro-sumer Canon 5D digital SLR cameras and the Navy had final cut of the $18million production. When the film was finally picked up, the studios did so for $43mill (incl. campaigns).
The end result, however, lies somewhere between an episode of G.I.Joe and a Navy recruitment video with about as much nuance as an RPG to the face.
This is essentially 101mins of american soldiers battling every minority you can think of. From South East Asians to Jews to Mexicans all the way to anybody from the Middle East, these boys parade in and lay waste to anyone and everyone without ever stepping back to ruminate on the repercussions of their actions. What could have been a film steeped in staggering realism and an expose on the unknown processes of the U.S. Special Forces instead ends up being a complete and utter wasted opportunity of jaw-dropping proportions.
The non-actors buckle under the weight of a staggeringly simplistic script with not-a-one of them delivering anything above sub-Steven Seagal emotional depth. Most of them, in fact, share the same two facial expressions; bored and annoyed, and by the time this is all over and done with, that’s exactly how you’ll feel.