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February 27, 2012  | by: Christopher Burns

Act of Valor

This weekend Act of Valor unsurprisingly took first place at the box office. The film, featuring active duty Navy Seals in many of the acting roles, took in over 27 million dollars this weekend.

It is interesting to watch a Pentagon approved and funded war film reach the top of the box office to rave popular review amongst its target audience. Perhaps the term target audience is expletive of the films two sided nature; that it seeks to entertain, but more importantly it seeks to promote the controversial foreign affairs policy of the United States through the exultation of the Navy SEALS it features. To put it very simply, Act of Valor is a propaganda film in the most classic sense of the word, and its target audience of “young men in the US” are clamoring over it.

The script was written by the same man who delivered the world 300, and is full of generic action flick dialogue, “Military” codes, and senseless acronyms. The acting is generally stiff, as one might expect of amateur actors trained on getting the job done… not getting it done in style. Though they are truly exceptional men prepared to make sacrifices greater than most people are asked to make in their entire lives, the Navy SEALS simply make boring actors.


They come in hot and from above, solve global problems, and blow a lot of things up. The plot involves a multi-national issue which threatens to destroy the entire world, unless the Navy SEALS are able to save the day. Like many Pentagon approved films, Act of Valor paints the United States as the just defender, the last line of defense against the evils of the world. The sailors are portrayed as near super heroes, glorifying them in the sense that Superman is glorified in comic books. It is a shameless promotion of the alleged necessity of an ever improving and growing military system in the United States.

What Act of Valor does not address are the negative connotations of the entire film. It does not portray the actions of the sailors as the potentially immoral violations of sovereignty that they may or may not be. It does not encourage a discussion amongst its viewers on the implications of America’s foreign policy, nor does it provide a dedicated look into the psychological and personal affects of war as in The Hurt Locker. It is the very definition of a bad war film, full of muscle men, and explosions and none of the emotion which makes it bearable to sit through the gratuitous violence for 2 hours.

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