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SALT LAKE CITY -- It's a compelling idea to craft a story based on actual acts of valor featuring the real deal -- elite Navy SEALS -- in the starring roles.
Filmmakers Mike McCoy and Scott Waugh offer an on-screen introduction of their movie, explaining that the only way to get the feel they wanted was to go as real as possible. With near unprecedented military access, live fire and active-duty SEALS, moments of action are delivered in which I had to remind myself to breath.
That's the good news. The bad news? When not boarding helicopters or speed rafting to a surfacing nuclear submarine or dropping into the jungles of Central America amid tracer rounds, let's just say our real SEALS are not going to win accolades for acting skills. In an effort to show the personal side of our heroes, we're treated to behind the scenes of camaraderie, backyard barbecues and even tearful farewells --all very touching but a real stretch for our warriors.
Now, that takes care of our good guys and, of course, we have to have bad guys. They appear in the form of two childhood friends, one who becomes a drug lord, the other follows the path of a radical Jihadist. Here's the plotline.
When the SEALS are "on the job" the movie gets four stars; when they're not, it's more like two stars.
While trying to infiltrate the drug cartel, a female operative (Roselyn Sanchez) is captured and the SEALS are charged with her rescue. In the process, it's discovered that the drug lord's money is funding a multi-front, imminent attack on America involving numerous suicide bombers. What follows is riveting, nail biting and the possibilities depicted are frighteningly realistic.
Fortunately the acting burden isn't all on the shoulders of the SEALS. I mentioned Roselyn Sanchez, whose character undergoes scenes of torture that are unnerving. Sanchez breaks your heart. You'll recognize a few more familiar faces from the acting community and their professionalism helps in the calmer, quieter moments where the storyline gels.
To rate this movie is perplexing. When the SEALS are "on the job" it's four stars; when they're not, it's more like two stars. But overall this movie is well worth seeing. So let's split the difference and give "Act of Valor" 3 stars. It's rated R.