“Act of Valor” Breaks From Usual Hollywood Formula

February 28, 2012

WESTMINSTER, CO – “To us and those like us. The damned few.” So goes the toast of the Navy SEALs in the blockbuster hit of the weekend, Act of Valor. The movie itself is being saluted as the rare breed of war movie unencumbered by what conservatives on talk radio and blogs see as a persistent and pervasive anti-military bias in most Hollywood films.

King of talk radio, Rush Limbaugh, said of the film on Monday: “It is just one of the best war movies I’ve ever seen…I sat in my seat stunned when it was over.”

Big Hollywood’s Kurt Schlichter penned a “Memo To Hollywood” on the movie, praising it for its moral clarity and unambiguous depiction of the threats faced by this country.

“There’s no bogus back story to the villains about how Americans were mean to them, or how their daddies didn’t hug them enough, or how global warming destroyed their petting zoo,” wrote Schlicter. “‘Act of Valor’ rejects the kind of value-free nonsense [Hollywood] loves to inject into [their] crummy, unwatched flops to generate the cozy moral ambiguity that allows [Hollywood] to pretend there is no such thing as right and wrong.”

The sense that the film breaks away from the standard Hollywood war movie mold, in addition to starring actual active duty Navy SEALs, helped generate a lot of buzz for the movie.

It topped the box office last weekend, taking in nearly $25 million, or more than twice the $12 million it cost to produce.

The story follows a Navy SEAL unit trying to save a kidnapped CIA operative who was looking into connections between an international drug dealer and a jihadi terrorist cell.

Between HALO jumps, miniature drones and nuclear subs, every inch of the film oozes authenticity.

Directors Scott Waugh and Mike McCoy cast actual active duty Navy SEAL operators, after realizing that actors just wouldn’t cut it if they wanted to accurately portray the SEALs. No stunt double would ever live up to the level of a SEAL.

“These guys are the best in the world at what they do,” said McCoy. “They were so much better in the middle of the gun fight. They were so much better in their missions than you could ever do with actors or stuntmen.”

Not only did they decide against stunt doubles, but the entire movie was shot with live fire. Live fire hasn’t been used on a movie set since 1929, according to the directors.

“They wouldn’t do anything that wasn’t real and authentic,” said Waugh.

When the directors began working on the movie four years ago they had no idea of the sudden notoriety the SEALs would gain overnight after taking out Osama bin Laden in a daring night raid in Pakistan.

The special forces soldiers in Act of Valor aren’t looking for fame or fortune. Most of the SEALs in the movie don’t even get mentioned by name and those that do are only given a first name.

McCoy told The Washington Post that the idea for the film began after he and Waugh spent some time at SEAL headquarters in San Diego. “That’s when the genesis [of the idea] happened, when we connected with the men and saw this brotherhood and this depth of character amongst men, and the sacrifices they’ve been through in the last 10 years in sustained combat.”

In shooting the movie, the directors had to be careful about not divulging any classified information.

The SEALS had to “scrub on technique, tactic and procedure to make sure we didn’t give away anything classified,” McCoy told Fox News. “We didn’t want to do that. We didn’t want to give the playbook to the bad guy.”

Respect for the SEALs mission and their sacrifices is a significant undercurrent in the film, which ends with a list of the SEALs who have lost their lives since 9/11.

The movie was originally envisioned as a recruiting video for the SEALS, but later turned into a full-blown action flick.

That genesis of the movie has caused some liberal Hollywood film stars to denigrate it.

Actor Dax Shepard, known for such gems as “Punk’d” with Ashton Kutcher, tweeted on Sunday: “Saw “Triumph Of The Will” tonight, oh wait, I mean “Act of Valor”,” referencing the Nazi propaganda film.

Kurt Schlichter has a message for folks like Shepard: “You assume that there is somehow something wrong with encouraging Americans to enter the military and serve their country. There isn’t.”

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