Today: February 26, 2024
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Act Of Valour

Point And Shoot

Point And Shoot

For too long now
Hollywood has had something of a guns and ammo fetish when it comes to military
hardware and execution. It’s the
all those close-ups of magazines being slow-mo clipped into weapons, the smoking
shell case being ejected from a gun and the bullets ripping through the body of
a faceless villain. And then along
came Michael Bay for whom slow-motion guns wasn’t enough. Instead he introduced us to the
military machine, the men and women of the US services who have every mod-con
killing device at the tips of their fingers. No longer did we have Marlon Brando uttering about the
“horror” of war, instead we are bombarded by men in camouflage shouting “bring
the rain” as a hail of hellfire and bullets rains down on some evil-doer or
massive robot.

Act Of Valour is
a film that preys on the current hard-on (or should that be hard-ware) for the
terrifying efficiency the US Military has of killing.

The plot is
essentially akin to any number of computer games you can encounter. A team of Navy SEALs head out on a
mission to rescue a captured CIA agent (Roselyn
Sanchez
). Once they have
secured their ‘package’ they also find a mobile phone which opens up a big old
can of terrorist worms. It sends
them on the path of terrorist leader Abu Shamal (Jason Cottle) who is trying to sneak suicide bombers into the US to
commit an attack which will put 9/11 to shame.

The unique
selling point of Act Of Valour, which in theory sets it apart from any number
of men-on-a-mission action thrillers in recent memory, is it is based on real
events using real tactics performed by real Navy SEALs. All the SEALs on display in Valour are
indeed either current or former serving men. These are the kind of reinforced concrete hard-nuts who
track down and kill war-lords like Osama Bib Laden. With this in mind you’d be forgiven for thinking Act Of
Valour could be an interesting and detailed examination of the methods of one
of the most elite fighting forces in the world. Alas, it’s not.

What you get
instead is something that closely resembles a propaganda come recruit film with
the soul intent of inspiring those who buy into said gun fetish with an excuse
to sign up to, you know, shoot people.
This is a film firmly aimed at Michael Bay fans and people who enjoy
games such as Call Of Duty. For
much of the set-pieces there are moments of first-person point of view, the
kind of thing gamers find all too addictive to look down the scope of a gun
whilst the head in the cross-hair explodes in a cloud of blood. The film even introduces characters
using an interactive style pop-up window.

The sad fact is
this film is intentionally setting out to make you think war is kick-ass as
opposed to hell. What makes it all
the more deplorable is that the men performing these acts on screen have no
doubt performed heroics which deserve more than a crash-bang-wallop Hollywood
treatment.

However, the film
is not without merit for those who enjoy a good action-set-piece. The techniques on display are genuinely
impressive; from the flying of toy planes to scout a hostile camp, to the slick
tactics used to taking down bad-guys.
Directors McCoy and Waugh certainly know how to conduct action and Act
Of Valour puts you right in the thick of it. The problem is they insist on shooting everything with that
golden sun-kissed Michael Bay look, because apparently all military operations
happen at sunset? Throw in a few
generic beardy-bad-guys and you have yourself a real-life, none-interactive
computer game. The worrying thing
is you wonder if between this and computer games are the US military
essentially grooming the next generation of soldiers?

If you find the
reality of war a little too gritty on the news and prefer it heightened to
levels of weaponry wet-dream then Act Of Valour will have you fist-pumping for
joy. If however, you think that
those who are willing to sacrifice themselves for their country should be shown
respect then Act Of Valour will leave you scratching your head and wondering
how such a film could ever be made.
The fact this film went straight to the number one spot at the US
Box-office in the week of it’s release tells you all you need to know about how
terrifyingly brain-washing such an exercise in ‘cinema’ can be.

David Watson

David Watson is a screenwriter, journalist and 'manny' who, depending on time of day and alcohol intake could be described as a likeable misanthrope or a carnaptious bampot. He loves about 96% of you but there's at least 4% he'd definitely eat in the event of a plane crash. Email: david.watson@filmjuice.com

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