As a collection of action set pieces, “Act of Valor” is a success. Unfortunately, it forgets to be a movie.
The gimmick or, um, backstory of “Act of Valor”: The film, while fictional, stars active duty SEALs and was shot in part during actual SEAL training missions.
The idea, directors Mike McCoy and Scott Waugh said, was to portray the SEALs more realistically than would be possible with actors. During combat scenes, this might be true. The SEALs were working in their natural environment, and it shows.
The problem arises when they leave the battlefield. The SEALs are the best fighters in the world, but that doesn’t mean they can act. As much as the incredible action brings you into the world of these men, the stilted delivery of just about every line of dialogue rips you out of it.
The story was clearly an afterthought here. A loose plot ties everything together, and character development is next to nonexistent.
With “Act of Valor,” McCoy and Waugh had an opportunity to set a new high water mark for war films. Instead, they ended up with a 100-minute Navy SEALs recruitment video.