Thursday 23 February 2012

ACT OF VALOR - Review by Greg Klymkiw - This detestable, borderline evil American military propaganda is so politically vile that it makes Leni Riefenstahl's Ode to Hitler "Triumph of the Will" seem like a Walt Disney "True-Life" Nature documentary from the 50s. The carnage is, however, brilliantly directed, shot and edited.

Act of Valor (2011) dir. Mike McCoy, Scott Waugh
Starring: (I kid you not - real Navy SEALs who do not use their last names in the credits because they're all in active duty) Lt. Rorke, Dave, Sonny, Weimy, Ray, Ajay, Mikey, Van O (and several "real" actors) Alex Veadov, Jason Cottle, Rosalyn Sanchez, Ailsa Marshall, Nestor Serrano, Emilio Rivera


By Greg Klymkiw

Upon hearing I'd just seen Act of Valor, a dear friend of the decidedly light-loafered persuasion was eager to know how much soft-core gay pornography was on display in the movie - after all, it's a war picture starring a whole whack (as it were) of buff real-life Navy SEAL pretty boys and God knows, there might well have been plenty of male bonding hijinx in the tents, showers and locker rooms as the lads, adorned only in their clean, white undies snapped wet towels at each other or gave each other healthy slaps on their firm buttocks or, better yet, sported their no-doubt formidable schwances full of soap suds.

I had to sadly report that the only real pornography on display was pro-American-military porn. And make no mistake, this movie comes very close to the usual definition of the word in so far as the movie features plenty of repeated sensationalistic depictions of actions meant to arouse physical and emotional sensations in its audience with little artistic value beyond said depictions. I would, however, emphasize "little" artistic value to mean that the movie does actually have SOME artistic value - as propaganda.

With the full blessing of the American military and all the armaments any war movie could possibly want, Act of Valor purports to be a realistic depiction of Navy SEALs in action, in the field of battle. The movie is bracketed by a grotesquely sentimental narration which turns out to be a letter to the child of a SEAL who never made it home to see his son born. It almost hilariously describes every member of the military team as being some loser miscreant prior to their induction into the life of soldiering - how they finally found meaning in their lives as protectors of America. There's no irony at all in this narration. There should be, since the military - especially in America - targets those who haven't got too much else on the ball save for their ability to be turned into killing machines and, in turn, fodder for the bullets of America's perceived enemies.

In the case of this film - the enemies are clear. They are Muslims first and foremost - rabid Jihads bent on serving Allah in his war upon the Infidel. Second only to Muslims are Russian-Jewish gangsters who smuggle arms and Jihads for profit. Thirdly, members of drug cartels who protect Jihads are also on the list of America's enemies.

And these are whom our glorious boys do battle with.

The plot, such as it is, involves a female CIA operative who is kidnapped and tortured (in the most graphic detail - at one point with a power drill). The SEALs raid the compound she's secured in, assassinate a small army of scumbags and proudly return her home. Alas, the movie makes a point of saying how this woman failed in her mission. She's tortured on-screen in the most horrific fashion, but unlike the men who sacrifice THEIR lives, her character is singled out for screwing up.

Oh well, war is for men. Not women. I guess. Or something. Huh? Whatever.

Then we're introduced to a Russian-Jewish gangster who masterminds the smuggling of some Chechen Muslim Jihads into - God Help Us - AMERICA!!! Their plan is to make 9/11 look like a minor fender bender.

Will America's finest make use of their buff bods' and superior firepower to put these scum in their place?

You betcha!

Like most propaganda, this is unbelievably stupid and aimed at the most brain-bereft audiences. That said, the first forty minutes of the film is, from a purely technical standpoint, brilliantly directed, shot and edited action. Even though we care less about the soldiers themselves, the movie does manage to invest us in the character of the female CIA operative and the rescue mission contains gut-wrenchingly suspenseful action.

Eventually though, we're left with the rest of the mission - to stop the Russian Jew and the Chechen Jihads and, by extension the Latino drug dealers. Here, the movie loses all emotional punch, though it does feature more superbly executed action.

What's so phenomenal about this movie is that it unblinkingly shows this military force of trained killers jetting all over the world, entering whatever country they bloody well want to and decimating hundreds, if not thousands (in reality) "bad guys" all in the name of "freedom" and to protect America from terror.

Not once does the movie ever even briefly suggest that the terrorism is rooted in America's imperialistic goal to control oil and other resources in the name of "freedom". It just blindly accepts that the world is full of bad Muslims, evil money-grubbing Russian-Jews and Latin drug cartels and that the only thing worth preserving are American ideals.

This is the most jaw-dropping military recruitment movie pretending to be entertainment that I've seen in recent memory. Not one "villain" is American and the only non-American hero is a Mexican military operative.

The movie is sexist, misogynistic, racist, ethnocentric, militaristic, jingoistic and mind-numbingly brain-dead. That said, the directing team (one a documentary filmmaker, the other a former stunt coordinator) are not brain-dead at all - they're terrific craftsmen who know how to make action pump along in ways that do not resort to the sloppy, cutty, geographically-challenged manner of most contemporary action movies.

I'd love to see these guys with a real script and real actors someday.

In the meantime, if you're into military porn, Act of Valor was made just for you. This detestable, borderline evil American military propaganda is so politically vile that it makes Leni Riefenstahl's Ode to Hitler Triumph of the Will seem like a Walt Disney "True-Life" Nature documentary from the 50s.

By the movie's end, I had no other thoughts save for two:

When will Americans learn that "Valor" is actually spelled "V-a-l-o-u-r"?


When will Americans admit that they're fighting for rich people who are happy to use them as fodder to increase their wealth?

Well, I can't speak to the country's woeful disregard for the Queen's English, but to the latter question, I suspect that if they ever realized they're being duped, then we wouldn't have movies like Act of Valor.

I believe this is what's referred to as a "tender mercy".

"Act of Valor" is in wide release and is distributed in Canada via Alliance Films.