Sunday, February 26, 2012

Movie Review: Act of Valor

Let's get one thing straight before we get anywhere on this review: I'm a different breed than most. Every last drop of my blood is red, white, and blue. I'm proud to put on the uniform I wear that stands ready to protect my great nation. That being said, I lost all objectivity for reviewing this movie before the previews even started. Act of Valor was one of the most impactful movies I have seen in years. I left the theater with a weight on my chest and my head spinning with a slew of emotion and I'll recommend that any man should go see it.

I'm sure Roger Ebert made some comment about how the acting was terrible. So let's just get that out of the way. It was. The dialogue was forced, and the conversations seemed unnatural. But once the active duty Navy SEALs started slinging lead, there was no doubt that these men knew what they were doing. From the get-go the movie delivers high speed action. From HALO dives to swift and silent uses of deadly force it made me glad I'm on the same team. If you go in expecting big action you will not leave disappointed.

Some of the things that hit me most in the movie were from the letter that was being dictated throughout the movie. I didn't bring my notepad into the theater so I can't quote it exactly but two quotes struck me in particular. The first mentioned how soldiers fear growing old- for to grow old is to no longer be perceived as dangerous. I hadn't thought about it in those terms before but I immediately agreed with the sentiment. I'm entering the prime years of life to be "dangerous." The warrior stage of life is one that I most closely relate to at this time in my life. My country trusts me to go overseas and to accomplish tasks that are challenging, and require me to be swift, strong, and violent. It's almost as if I have a license to use my power to the utmost extent in order to accomplish the objectives of my country. Let me also be quick to mention that this power must be kept under the most stringent of discipline. Obviously, we must abide by the laws and conventions that go along with modern warfare. Even beyond following the rules, this is a side of my life I keep strictly under wraps. My wife has never seen it. My civilian co-workers would never suspect it, but if called upon to protect my country I have no doubts that I would be able to employ the dangerous, calculated warrior within to protect the men on my left and right and to deliver decisive blows to our foe. To be dangerous is to reflect our very Creator. The Old Testament doesn't beat around the bush- the Lord is a warrior. Eventually, I'll have to pass the baton to a younger, more capable soldier but for the time being I'm relishing the fact that the Lord has made me dangerous. Just like him.

The last part of the letter said that there are so few willing to give their all for this country. The movie was probably shocking for a good percentage of the audience. If you think the US only fires it's weapons in the mountains of Afghanistan, you're gravely mistaken. Our hunt for those wishing to bring harm on to US soil doesn't have borders. Granted, most of us will only fight in places you see on CNN; but there are some that risk their lives daily fighting in obscurity. Their death will never make the news papers, but they gave up their life fighting to protect you. In the last 10 years 0.45% of the American population has been a part of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Most of the soldiers that I've spoken with don't have a problem with that. We would rather do it so you don't have to. We would gladly bring the fight to them so that they live in constant fear of having their training camps obliterated, their safe havens demolished, or their leaders systematically eliminated rather than a single american worry about going to work in their high rise and wondering if they'll be next.

After the movie was over, I walked away with a huge feeling of gratitude and debt to those who have paid the ultimate price for our freedom. It is a terrific film. It will give you the testosterone fueled adrenaline rush you'd expect and make you think about things bigger than you. Two thumbs up from KTF.

UPDATE: So a portion of the letter's text has been circulating around on the internet so I thought I'd add it here as well. It was said by Chief Tecumseh of the Shawnee:

So live your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart. Trouble no one about their religion; respect others in their view and demand that they respect yours. Love your life, perfect your life, beautify all things in your life. Seek to make your life long and its purpose in the service of your people.

Prepare a noble death song for the day when you go over the great divide. Always give a word or a sign of salute when meeting or passing a friend, even a stranger, when in a lonely place. Show respect to all people and bow to none. When you arise in the morning, give thanks for the food and for the joy of living. If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies only in yourself. Abuse no one and nothing, for abuse turns the wise ones to fools and robs the spirit of its vision.

When it comes your time to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with fear of death, so that when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way. Sing your death song and die like a hero going home.”

I don't necessarily agree with all the things the chief says- as obviously our worldviews are different, but I think I can agree with his views on death. As Christians we need to be reminded that to live is Christ but to die is gain. We should have no fear of death whether it comes by enemy fire, persecution, or cancer- this world is not our home.

Also a great article on the real acts that inspired some of the characters in the movie can be found here. (Wait until you've seen the movie first- lots of spoilers.)

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  1. I haven't seen it yet, but now I can't wait! The premise looked very engaging. Not surprised the acting is poor, but acting quality is not what most who see it will be looking for.

  2. As long as you have the right expectations the movie will blow you out of the water. If you need somebody to go with... I'd be up for round 2.