The adults at Homeschool Pool were lucky enough to go see a screening of Act of Valor last night thanks to Homeschool Movie Club. First, we think this is an awesomely inspiring movie and we highly recommend it. Now, let’s get to the details. Act of Valor is the story of a group of Navy SEALs who are on a mission to stop a terrorist plot. Throughout we see how the SEALs plan, work together as a unit and follow their code to ensure the successful completion of their mission. It shows the sacrifice these men and their families make, the level of skill needed and it shows the dangers they willingly put themselves in to protect the freedom we enjoy. Integral to the theme of Act of Valor is the code these men live by and the importance for everyone to have such a code. The spin with this movie is that instead of casting actors as SEALs, actual active duty Navy SEALs were used which was intended to give it a more realistic, raw and emotional feel. It worked.
In the movie a CIA operative is kidnapped and the Navy SEALs are tasked with rescuing her. In the execution of this mission a terrorist plot is uncovered and the SEALs work to thwart it before lives are lost on United States soil. The movie is quite touching. You see the bonds formed between these men who rely on one another to stay alive in intense and extremely dangerous situations. You see also the family relationships, the wives, the children of these men and how what the SEALs do affect them. In Act of Valor you see not only how the SEALs have to sacrifice but also how the families take on that sacrifice for the greater good.
The movie is at times exciting, watching how this highly trained unit works together to efficiently accomplish their missions. There is certainly plenty of “edge-of your-seat” action for the thrill seekers plus the suspense of what will happen next. For the battle scenes, live ammo was often used resulting in a realistic view without the overly hyped Hollywood explosions you see in most action movies. For those who have a fascination with battle strategy and weaponry this is an exhilarating ride to see some of what our armed forces are capable of. But with the excitement also comes some uncomfortable moments – extremely uncomfortable moments. This movie is not a fun shoot ‘em up. It is a serious look at the realities of war and war is not pretty. Act of Valor pulls no punches in this regard. You will see death. You will see loss. You will see sacrifice. You will see pain. But you will also see…valor.
Let’s discuss the rating of Act of Valor and how it pertains to home school families. It is rated R for strong violence including some torture and language. The language was not overly offensive. It was the result of stressful adult situations and we have seen many action movies with a lot more profanity. The violence was definitely strong. There was a torture scene. It was all very realistic which made it scarier. That being said it was neither gory nor gratuitous. So yes, while it is rated R and we believe the rating is justified, we would have no problem letting a high school child see it. In fact, we believe it would be good for them to see the realities of war and how these men fight for all of us. A little dose of reality (as opposed to the glorified violence found in many video games), even if it is scary, might do some good for children in these times. Of course, it also depends on the maturity of the child. So parents, make your decisions accordingly.
The “actors” in the movie will not be seen any time soon on the stage performing Macbeth. But, these were not actors; they were real, active duty Navy SEALs. There were lines that could have been delivered better, mostly in the non-combat scenes. But when considering these men are not professional actors they did a passable job and for the bulk of the movie it is not really noticed. It certainly does not detract from the value of the movie though some critics may take issue with this. Movie critics may have some negative things to say about Act of Valor but most of the average people who saw it took away a renewed sense of pride in our country and for the men and women who serve it. It is, ultimately, a tribute to these people who serve our country and who fight for our liberty, often paying the ultimate price with their lives. At the screening we went to there was nary a dry eye in the place.
This is a movie everyone should see who is mature enough to handle its viewing. Pay careful attention to the reading of the letter, especially in the ending minutes, as it sums up the code of values that these men live by. It also stresses the importance of each person having a code, a system of beliefs to allow others the right to live honorably, have their own religious and personal beliefs, to be respected and to be free. It also demands that the same be given in return and that to fight for that right is, at times, necessary. To live by this code is to live a life of worth – and of valor.
Act of Valor is due to be released in theaters February 24, 2012. To see the trailer of this film click below: