Saturday, March 10, 2012
Time to Frogman Up: Go See Act of Valor
Last time I sacrificed a small fortune at the theater, it was to see Red Tails. I got burned on that one. But I march to the beat of a completely different drum than the lock-stepped mass media, so the hate spewing forth against this flick helped me decide to give it a chance on the big screen.
I'm glad I did.
Not that I've read all the knee-jerk criticisms of Act of Valor, but I'm sure the acting was panned. Okay, I'll admit that the performances were not Oscar caliber, but considering that the SEALs on-screen were portrayed by real life active duty SEALs, it wasn't that bad. Better, in fact, than in many films I've seen. Let's not forget this is an action movie, either.
Much of this movie was shot in something like cinema verite` (reminded me of how John Milius and George Lucas originally planned to shoot Apocalypse Now...in 16mm on location in Vietnam). In general, this worked pretty well, but did cause occasional confusion during the action sequences. Otherwise, they were fantastic.
It was nice that the Special Boat Squadrons got a little bit of cowboy time, and pretty cool to watch, too. As with all war/military flicks, I took issue with some of the tactics depicted. For instance: I've never been a SEAL, nor do I watch the reality shows about BUDS, but I should hope that on a mission requiring surprise, SEALs would know better than to silhouette themselves in front of a bright, low moon. But cinematicly, it makes for a pretty shot. Directors like to cram multiple characters into the frame, too, in tactical scenes--which causes combat formations to shrink to tactically unwise intervals. But I can nitpick pretty much any shoot-'em-up movie with those kind of observations.
The language was actually a shade tamer than in real life military units. The technical details seemed to be solid. The action was violent, but not gratuitously so; and was necessitated by the plot. In short, this was a humdinger of an action flick.
And as I suspected, Act of Valor did no political soapboxing. But the very fact that a conflict was portrayed in which there was a clear deliniation between right and wrong--and American fighting men happened to be in the right--has infuriated the Hollywood establishment. See, American GIs should be ignorant rapists, racists, murderers, exploiters of harmless Third World Paradise-Dwellers, dangerous immature loose cannons committing a Mai Lai Massacre every time the military industrial complex gives them live rounds and a plane ride over the pond. Act of Valor has committed Hollywood heresy.
It's a mystery how they avoid choking on their own hypocrisy when they call this movie "propaganda."
It's a good movie, and probably one of the least propagandistic you're going to see in theaters OR on TV this year.