“May have been the losing side. Still not convinced it was the wrong one.”

"This report is maybe 12-years-old. Parliament buried it, and it stayed buried till River dug it up. This is what they feared she knew. And they were right to fear because there's a whole universe of folk who are gonna know it, too. They're gonna see it. Somebody has to speak for these people. You all got on this boat for different reasons, but you all come to the same place. So now I'm asking more of you than I have before. Maybe all. Sure as I know anything I know this, they will try again. Maybe on another world, maybe on this very ground swept clean. A year from now, 10, they'll swing back to the belief that they can make people . . . better. And I do not hold to that. So no more running. I aim to misbehave." ~ Captain Malcom Reynolds

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Act of Valor

Pre-review disclaimer: I am not a SEAL - and am not representing myself as such. However, I did spend the majority of my military time in SEAL units working directly with these men, both in and out of combat. I still have a great many friends in the Teams and other members of the community. So, my comments are based on my own background and experiences, and may differ from that of others...

As I said last night - wow. This movie is one of the first in a long time to really blow me away like that. I had planned to see it since I heard it announced, and made it a date night with my wife - even though she initially wasn't interested in it (beyond a night without the kids). As she had been with me for a number of my years around the community, there were people in the film we both recognized from the past - kind of an interesting thing. But yes, I came out of it affected by memories and the past.

For those who aren't aware of the film background, this started as an intended recruiting film for the Teams; it then morphed into a full feature film. The primary "actors" are all active-duty SEALs, and the movie was filmed with the full cooperation of the U.S. Navy. The various components of the story are all based on actual missions from the recent years, which have been melded into an overall plot for movie purposes.

Don't go to this film if you're expecting Oscar-winning dialogue, great character development, a romantic sub-plot or anything of the sort - that's not what you're going to get.

Do go to this film if you'd like to finally see what small-unit forces experience and act like.

You won't get your cookie-cutter "disaffected loner," "conflicted soldier," or "token red-shirt/minority/comic relief."

You'll get to see real people, taking the time to give you a glimpse into the world they live in every day. Showing you just a bit of what it's like to say goodbye to your loved ones, closing a door both physically and mentally, and going away to war.

Those of you with backgrounds anywhere near Special Operations are going to recognize certain behaviors and tactics right away. You're going to see people using weapons like they know what they're doing. Real room entries, reloads, and all that other stuff. The things I spotted which I know are different were obvious changes for the sake of operational security. But I also saw stuff shown on camera that fifteen years ago we couldn't even talk about - so it was interesting to see the change in public exposure.

For any combat veterans - you may find a few scenes intense. Not overwhelmingly so, but there were a couple of points where the camera work and noise finally approached a fraction of what things are really like - hard to do in a theater. The violence of action isn't glossed over, but it isn't glorified either. Good guys and bad guys both bleed and don't bounce back from injuries.

I only spotted one glaring technical error in the whole thing - and it was from the bomb tech side of things, and something even most SEALs wouldn't be aware of. Even then, I can't say for sure it wasn't made deliberately as a security issue or movie moment. For a movie dealing with this sort of thing that's nothing short of amazing.

The only two "critiques" I have are pretty simple. I would have liked to have seen more of their "normal" lives - tell us a bit more about who these guys are and how they got here. We get a couple of glimpses of the fact these are men with families and homes, but I think it would remind viewers even more that our military men and women are people just like them. The other thing is that there were a few scenes in which the various "toys" or insertion techniques were pretty obviously used as just taking another moment to show off all the neat stuff. From a recruiting standpoint - cool; from a necessary standpoint not so much. Really that's it.

The final bit was absolutely wonderful in terms of respect and honor. The filmmakers took the time to dedicate the movie to those SEALs who have fallen in the war on terror, and to list everyone by name. Yes, I teared up seeing the names of several friends. The entire audience was nothing but respectful during this moment as well.

So, without going on any further, let me just say - go see this movie. Take the time and see and realize what these men, and those like them, do to keep us free.


Wandering Soul said...

I am definitely wanting to see this movie! My friend is a Navy Seal and I grew up being a Navy brat so I have a LOT of respect for those who serve in the military. Not to mention, the guy I am seeing is Special Ops.

agirlandhergun said...

Excellent. My husband and I want to see it, but decided to wait to see what other said first. Our time is limited,so we hate to take time out for a movie that stinks.

Dori said...

We get so few opportunities to go out so we really do our best to choose wisely. Our past several date movies have been Sherlock Holmes, James Bond and Harry Potter. Our every day lives are drama enough--if I go out to the movies, I want to be able to escape from reality, not be slapped up side the head with it.

However, even though it wouldn't have been one I would have picked, I'm glad I went and I'm glad we went together. The final 15 minutes of the film was emotionally draining. For many, many reasons. I have never been more proud of a theater full of strangers. Every single person remained silent and respectful as the final credits rolled. I know we weren't the only ones with tears in our eyes.

Handcuffed Heart said...

We just saw this movie last night, at my request. It was definitely difficult for me to watch, but I am so glad we went! Thanks for the assessment ~ I agree 100%!