The story surrounds the violent abduction of a covert CIA agent named Lisa Morales (Roselyn Sanchez, Without A Trace) who was shadowing a wealthy crime lord named Christo (Alex Veadov) in South America. When a SEAL team is sent to collect Ms. Morales, they retrieve information revealing a much larger plot involving a group of jihadists led by a Chechen-turned-Muslim calling himself Abu Shabal (Jason Cottle), who is connected with Christo. The plan is to carry out numerous terrorist attacks on U.S. soil. It then becomes a race against time to root out the jihadists and track down the 16 suicide bombers about to infiltrate our country.
The film takes the viewer all over the world on various missions with the SEAL team, with the main focus being on Lt. Rorke, who is about to become a first-time dad, and SOC Dave, his right hand man, although in the early part of the film, each member of the team is briefly explained with an overlay containing his stats, so you get a feel for each one. Likewise, each time the focus switched to a different part of the world, a world map overlay would display the next location. It was a nice touch to help you keep track. What I forgot as I was watching the film was the fact that these guys were using live rounds during filming, and when you see some of the firefights, it's pretty intense.
I will say that the acting was a bit stiff among the SEALs during scenes where there was just banter, but for crying out loud, acting is not what they do. Ass-kicking is what they do and they all shine during the action scenes. The SEALs' actual families were used during the scenes where they were saying goodbye before heading out for a mission and those emotions and tears were real and moving.
Act of Valor won't win any acting awards, but what it does is show us regular Americans just who is out there protecting us. What these guys do is amazing and has been fairly veiled in secrecy until now, just due to their own personal code of being "silent warriors." I learned so much by watching the interviews with the team of Active Duty SEALs who starred in the film and by listening to what the filmmakers did to bring this picture to the screen. Not to downplay it in any way, but Act of Valor is like Call of Duty the movie. Now, I don't mean that in a bad way at all, because I am a big Call of Duty fan, but watching Act of Valor was literally like watching the flawless execution of several awesome levels in the game, using incredible technology, all connected by the personal journey of the men behind the frogsuits.
Special features include the previously mentioned interviews, which are great, as well as deleted scenes, directors' commentary, and a handful of featurettes on the making of the film. There's also a music video by Keith Urban and a making of that video, which also used live explosions. It's all good stuff. Also, since the film uses real explosions and such, it looks fantastic on Blu-ray since there was no fake looking CG to pull you out of the experience. Act of Valor is as authentic as they come.
If you have any interest in military/war based films, you'll want to check out Act of Valor, if simply for the twist of having actual SEALs playing themselves, doing what they do. It's inspiring and these folks are to be commended for what they do for our country, quietly and without wide recognition... until now.