Sunday, April 01, 2012

"Act of Valor" may belong to the "B movie" genre; is the "plot" it depicts a credible national threat?


Act of Valor” may pay homage to the “B movie” genre, but today this genre can contain innovative special effects and imaginative action sequences , even if short on plot – as studios like Lionsgate, Summit, and Screen Gems prove, and now Relativity Media (normally connected to “I Am Rogue” and either Universal or Sony)  demonstrate with the genre military thriller “Act of Valor”.  The film, set in the present day of about 2011 or so, outdoes earlier efforts like “Navy Seals” and “Collateral Damage”, even if it’s likely to be forgotten quickly. 

The film, directed by Mike McCoy and Scott Waugh, opens with an eye-splitting commando raid by Navy Seals and rescue of a battered CIA agent (Roselyn Sanchez) from a drug-cartel’s compound in Costa Rica.  That takes up the first third of the film (after an introductory sequence set in the Philippines), but then comes the “plot twist”.  The Seals discover connections to a ring determined to bring suicide bombers into the US through a hidden border tunnel near San Diego.   The weapon comprises a vest with plastic glue and a particular ceramic buckshot to produce shrapnel.   The vests are being “manufactured” in the Ukraine, and handed off in Somalia and other places in the South Pacific. The rest of the film, predictably, concerns the efforts of the Seals to interdict the plot in all the major choke points.

Now it’s rather unlikely that this “weapon” is very original; this sort of thing has been used against Israel for years.   And it’s also unlikely that it would take such an elaborate plot, requiring widely scattered locations around the World, to pull off.  It’s probably not Navy Seals who would shut something like this down; it’s ordinary law enforcement and police departments, and alert citizens.

And Hollywood (as in the recent TV series “Missing”) has this obsession with CIA work, as if it consisted of gunslinging agents from Westerns.  Actually, most analysts (from what I’m told) find the work tedious and repetitive, and very ordinary day-to-day.

I saw this film on a Saturday afternoon at the Regal in Arlington in a small but adequate auditorium (Regal could enlarge the screens (for 2.35:1 as in this film without vertical cropping) in small auditoriums by lifting the screen above the fire exit doors.)  There was still a fair crowd for this film that’s been around for a month or more. 

The official site is here

Here is Relativity’s Superbowl ad.

Picture (mine): Texas  

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