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REVIEW: SEALs make 'Act of Valor' a unique, gripping shoot-em-up

Having a real Navy SEAL team as the stars of a fictional action adventure film adds a frightening realism to the traditional shoot-em-up “Act of Valor.” Michael Bay has some serious competition now that “Act of Valor” co-directors Mike McCoy and Scott Waugh have upped the ante on military action films.

“Act of Valor” plays heavily to the first person shooter crowd that has grown up in the past two decades with near-realistic video games. This unprecedented action movie feels more like a live-action console game than a feature film. 

Introducing the Navy SEALs element adds a unique quality. Shots alter between traditional cinematography and point-of-view as the SEALs take out their targets.You will feel like you aren’t just watching an ordinary action flick but witnessing a genuine mission. The film has all the elements of a traditional action extravaganza from car chases to ambushes to a megalomaniac villain, blended with the bravado and heroism of the Brotherhood.

We follow the SEALs on several connected assignments from rescuing a kidnapped CIA operative in Costa Rica to stopping a crazed Jihadist from smuggling suicide bombers across the U.S. border.

We’ve seen the story before on shows like “24,” which have handled the suspense and international intrigue much better, but the real thrill is watching the precision of the SEALs as they stealthily carry out their missions like a well-choreographed dance.

A cross between a History Channel special and a military training video, “Act of Valor” should appeal to fans of 80s Stallone and Schwarzenegger films. Unfortunately the film does suffer from exhausted clichés and heavily forced sentiment. While the SEALs are real, the drama is often not. But where the film is lacking in authentic drama is heavily compensated for with incredible set pieces and the unique experience of watching a genuine SEALs team in action.

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