Act of Valor

Last night I went to a screening of Act of Valor, with Q&A from the writer of the film, Kurt Johnstad, who you may know from his previously penned script for the film adaptation of 300.  
Act of Valor is about a team of Navy SEALs and a mission they go on.  That’s really all this movie is about, and what else would you want?  Charlie Sheen?  Let’s try to forget that movie shall we?

It’s action packed.  I mean there’s a gun firing almost every minute, and if there isn’t, they’re preparing to shoot something, somewhere, somehow.  It’s almost like the movie version of 24, in that one small mission turns in to a larger scale threat than they had previous imagined.
The film was mainly shot on the Cannon 5D, for those who don’t know, it’s a still picture camera that can shoot vide0.  And it’s amazing the images that came out for this movie, especially what it can do in low lighting situations.  Another aspect of this movie that makes it almost feel like a documentary is that the filmmakers worked around the SEALs’ deployment schedule, Johnstad talked about this in the Q&A portion.
Previous to this film the Bandito Brothers did a documentary about Special Warfare Combatant-craft Crewmen, so their next project was to do one about the SEALs, but they decided to use active duty SEALs.  There’s a scene where two members have to board a Nuclear Submarine, the sub can only surface for forty minutes, longer than that and it’ll be detected, so the filmmakers at a moments notice had to film the SEALs dropping from the helicopters, using a Zodiac raft to get to the Sub and then entering the Sub before it submerges.  That’s an amazing feat, both by the Navy and the filmmakers.

Act of Valor is comprised of more scenes like this, and that’s what makes it a sort of documentary, in that these are training exercises that SEALs do all the time, but there just so happens to be a film crew documenting it.  And there’s a narrative that these scenes are cut to.

We all knew this was coming, the actual acting chops of the active duty SEALs.  You can tell they’re not actors, but that’s ok, cause when they’re at their best is during the mission briefings and the missions, which is most of this movie.
Other than that, I’d have to say the camera angles.  There’s an interrogation scene where it’s mainly out of focus, that was a shame.  Makes me wonder why that happened?
Then in some of the action scenes the angle was too close for my taste, I get the first person shooter aspect of it, but when they cut to the reverse angle, I would’ve appreciated a medium or wide shot.

Overall, a real fun flick.  With the stipulations Johnstad was given as a writer he managed to craft a story that drew me in, as well as the audience at this screening.  It’s quite the feat that you feel something at the end for these characters, there were a couple sniffles in the audience.
Lots of guns, action and just great shots with a new medium of filming.  This film had me from the beginning, it starts out in San Diego and then goes to the Philippines.  If you like all the Call of Duty, Battlefield games and other first person shooters, definitely give this film a view.

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