Act of Valour
Impressive technique and verisimilitude delivered at the expense of plot and characterisation
The on-screen pursuit of combat verisimilitude is the driving force behind Act of Valour, an anti-terrorist action flick which aims to make a virtue of casting real life Navy SEALs (United States Navy's Sea, Air, and Land Teams) as themselves. The technical details, the film-makers assure us in a pompous documentary prologue, are authentic; it’s just a pity the plotting and the politics are as simply drawn as a child’s Action Man fantasies.
Unquestioningly jumping off from the premise of the US as a global policeman, Act of Valour follows the activities of the Bandito Platoon, who are introduced surfing and chilling out on a San Diego beach with their girlfriends. The kidnapping of CIA operative Lisa Morales (Roselyn Sanchez) and a schoolyard explosion in the Philippines are linked to an international terrorism cartel led by Christo (Alex Veadov), who plans to infiltrate American soil with suicide bombers. The SEALs head off to missions in Costa Rica, Somalia and Mexico in a frantic race of time to stop Christo’s sleeper cells from awakening.
Act of Valour is a technically adroit war film, but hugely flawed by its crude characterization; none of the SEALs are memorably established other than Van O their chief interrogator, and their missions are completed with the whitewashed ease of a video-game; despite the high-stakes involved, Van O’s much-vaulted interrogation techniques are portrayed as no more forceful than the sweeping of a Newton’s cradle off Christo’s desk with the back of his hand. The technical detail marshaled by director/producers Mike McCoy and Scott Waugh is undeniably impressive, but sits uneasily alongside the gung-ho sentiments. Act of Valour might work as a recruiting poster for impressionable teenagers, but those who bravely serve in the armed forces deserve a better tribute that the naïve, sub-Team America nonsense served up here.
General release from Fri 23 Mar.