Act of Valour (15)
Starring: Alex Veadov, Roselyn Sánchez
Hatched as a seven-minute training video on the work of US Navy commandos, known as SEALs, this bizarre hybrid of war movie and recruitment drive is a proper dud.
It stars a group of active-duty SEALs in the fictionalised account of a mission to foil a terrorist attack on the homeland – one that "will make 9/11 look like a walk in the park". With the approval (and hardware) of the Pentagon, and a loose script by Kurt Johnstad (300), an elite team first rescues a kidnapped CIA operative in a Mexican shanty, then does battle with a Jihadist nutter who's been training suicide bombers to target American cities. Now the SEALs, who took Osama Bin Laden out of action, may be the toughest and savviest combat troops on the block, but it's plain that they can't act.
Their leaden banter and awkward body language are compounded by a macho voiceover so portentous ("One twig may break, but a bunch of twigs is strong") it could be a parody. Only it's not. The irony of the project is obvious: the authenticity of their jump-on-the-grenade heroics is undermined by their weird inauthenticity as men. Writing and acting, like soldiering, are skills that require effort and discipline to master: that the Navy brass imagined a combat drama would be best performed by actual combatants does a disservice to soldiers and to actors. They are not performing SEALs, and no one should have asked them to be.
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