'Act of Valor' throws away a lot of what you would expect to find in a big, Hollywood-style war movie and gives you an up close and personal look in to the lives of American soldiers doing what they do best. This is like 'Black Hawk Down', but played by the guys that were actually there.
Even though this is a fictional story (inspired by actual missions), the soldiers are played by real, active duty Navy SEALs and not actors who went through a two week 'boot camp' training simulation to get ready for their roles. What you end up with is a story of how a group of elite soldiers work as a unit to help uncover a terrorist plot that, if successful, would cause destruction around the United States.
The execution of their missions is amazingly precise and you see how much preparation goes in to putting the odds in their favor well before a shot is ever fired. Snipers take out targets from afar while a team moves in to a small village to rescue a hostage. Meanwhile, an extraction team and air support waits their turn to provide assistance at just the right moment to get everyone out safely.
The action is intense and filmed in a way that puts you right in to the middle of each fire fight and you find yourself dodging the explosions and flying bullets. Co-directors Mike McCoy and Scott Waugh keep a sense of danger that is believable and is also enhanced even more by the fact that you know the men playing these roles have actually gone through experiences like what we are seeing on the screen.
When compared to other big war movies and action spectacles, 'Act of Valor' will fall short of the thrilling roller coaster rides played out by charismatic movie stars, but what you do get is a more honest portrayal of the sacrifices made and the bravery it takes to survive the intense and dangerous missions these men take on. Navy SEALs are the best at what they do and this movie leaves no doubt about that fact.
Along with the trailer, I have included a featurette on how live fire rounds (real bullets!) were used during filming to give an unprecedented sense of realism to the movie. This is some pretty intense stuff!