Saturday, February 25, 2012

Act of Valor or Act of Propaganda

I am a big fan of SEALs as well as all the other Special Forces groups America has at her command. They are all good men of honor, courage, and incredible skill at what they do. One of the names of the honored fallen listed at the end of Act of Valor is that of a man known to me personally and I looked forward to viewing the film Friday afternoon with great anticipation. However, in all the adoration and praise of the SEALs and the film in the usual movie reviews, some not so usual, and the blogger Bookworm, who seems to be the most quoted on the film today, the movie and story, based on five actual SEAL missions, were disappointing and twisted.

That real SEALs were cast was largely a gimmick and added little or nothing to the story and the advertised live fire scenes go absolutely unnoticed as live fire in a movie is indistinguishable from special FX. It's being bandied about that no Hollywood stunt men were used because no stuntman was good enough to do what SEALs do. The truth is, nineteen Hollywood stuntmen were used including a stunt coordinator. The spectacular formation parachute jump scenes were performed by the US Navy Parachute Team made up of fifteen actual SEALs, but the Leap Frogs, as they are known, are a performance team, not a combat unit much like the Navy's Blue Angels is not an actual air combat unit. The big truck chase through the jungle was just as thrilling as the similar scene in Indiana Jones and The Kingdom of the Chrystal Skull and just as stupidly unrealistic. Bullets fired by military grade machine guns will, in fact, penetrate the tail gate of any pick-up truck killing or wounding those riding in the bed even if it is an American made Dodge.

The film is advertised as unique in that it probes deeply into SEAL culture and tactics. However, the movie progresses as opposed to develops because we don't really learn anything about the individual operators or SEAL tactics we haven't already seen in any number of action movies and TV shows. In fact, "SEALs at the Naval Special Warfare Command carefully reviewed the footage to be absolutely certain no SEAL tactics, techniques, or procedures were revealed that would in any way compromise current or future operations." So much for accuracy and realism.

On another level, the story line was profoundly disturbing because the enemy was equated with al Qaida in that terror, in the guise of metal security proof suicide vests lined with ceramic ball bearings, was being brought to the US heartland and would make 9/11 look like child's play. We learn one bad guy, abu Shabal, is a crazed convert to Islam, a Russian or Chechen, possibly a lapsed Jew whose father's name was Yevgeni, and childhood friend of the second bad guy, Christo, who is an international arms smuggler. Christo is also the real brains and money man behind the terror network and evil scheme and is a filthy rich Jew potentially more dangerous than al Qaida. The third evil contingent is a Mexican drug cartel providing transport under the US-Mexican border through an elaborate tunnel system. In all this, the real Muslims from The Philippines, who are to wear the bomb vests to blow up malls, sports events, and other public gathering spaces in the US, are simple, hapless victims of Jews, Mexicans, and crazy converts.

In the end, the Hollywood message is clear: terrorist financing Jews and Mexican drug cartels acting as terrorist facilitators are the enemy. Muslims are not. They're just the hapless patsies of the rich and greedy, the two groups specifically targeted by the Obama 2012 re-election campaign even though the movie production began two years ago.

Other than that, Act of Valor is an exciting and enjoyable movie that is damned near impossible to sleep through though the guy next to me gave it a good try. True Lies, the Arnold Schwartezenegger and Jamie Lee Curtis vehicle of similar vein, however, was more accurate and direct in identifying America's enemy as a Muslim Islamist terrorist way back in 1994 before tagging Jihadi Islamists as bad guys was taboo and un-PC. And the fake gunfire and explosions were just as realistic.