Urban Cinefile  
 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Tuesday July 28, 2020 


An elite team of US Navy SEALs embarks on a covert mission to recover kidnapped CIA agent Lisa Morales (Roselyn Sanchez), who has been working on a deadly link between two childhood friends Christo (Alex Veadov) and Abu Shabal (Jason Cottle) who are involved in a plan to attack several US sites with suicide bombers using undetectable porcelain ball bearings.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Not so much a war movie as a tribute to the Commandos known as the SEALs, and to their bonds forged in battle, Act of Valour is a sombre affair, immersing us in the culture of these specially trained soldiers. Indeed, the cast are made up of genuine SEAL team members.

The Sydney premiere was introduced by an Australian equivalent, a soldier from Special Operations Command who spoke briefly of the menís deep sense of motivation to the cause of their country. He spoke especially of the Commando Welfare Trust which provides support to the wounded and whatever support it can to the families of the Commandos who are killed in battle zones.

The film takes a while to settle into its core task of dramatically and graphically retelling two separate but linked actions in which female CIA agent Lisa Morales (Roselyn Sanchez) is captured and tortured, and the team is sent to Ďextractí her; and another in which the men plotting the terror attacks (which Morales was close to uncovering) are tracked down in Mexico.

Both these are shot in what has become standard style for war and action movies, with the camera thrust into the middle of the action. This may add to the sense of battle chaos but it sharply reduces our involvement as there are no establishment wide shots to show who is where doing what.

The film tries in the first 30 minutes to show us the soldiers as husbands and friends, to create real people behind the protective gear. Itís a patchy and disjointed process which works against the film, and it isnít until the second half that a more coherent approach gets our attention. There are still problems accessing the film, notably the heavy use of the specialised form of words used by the unit, and by the difficulty of recognising who is who in many scenes.

But itís really a film aimed at a specific audience of defence force personnel and their circle, and those who are keenly interested in the work of such units. It does not appeal to those with an anti-American sensibility, who will no doubt see it as a celebration of US military might and its ability to strike anywhere in the world. But that view would be trumped by these stories, based on actual events, which demonstrate again that Americaís enemies can also strike anywhere in the world and their targets are civilians.

Itís in fact a universal theme: the warrior tradition from ancient times is ever present, and Act of Valour shows how honour and courage are not enough to save young lives.

Email this article

Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

(US, 2012)

Act of Valor

CAST: Alex Veadov, Roselyn Sanchez, Nestor Serrano, Roselyn Sanchez

PRODUCER: Mike McCoy, Scott Waugh

DIRECTOR: Mike McCoy, Scott Waugh

SCRIPT: Kurt Johnstad


EDITOR: Siobhan Prior, Michael Tronick, Scott Waugh

MUSIC: Nathan Furst


RUNNING TIME: 110 minutes



© Urban Cinefile 1997 - 2020