Act of Valor – a movie with real Navy SEALs

Act of Valor - Navy SEALs
Shooting of a scene with SWCCs from Special Boat Team 22 (Photo: Wikipedia)

The Act of Valor movie is a modern war story. It is the only movie with real Navy SEALs posing as actors. Also, the missions in the film are all based on the real thing, and the Navy cooperated with the production on what had been an unprecedented level. The shooters are real SEALs and not actors.

Plot

Act of Valor is a Hollywood movie produced and directed by Mike McCoy and Scott Waugh and written by Kurt Johnstad. The movie follows a U.S. Navy SEAL team (story plot and mission suggest it is Seal Team 6, DEVGRU) as they embark upon a black operation to recover a kidnapped CIA agent.

It stars Alex Veadov, Roselyn Sánchez, Nestor Serrano and Emilio Rivera, as well as active-duty U.S. Navy SEALs and U.S. Navy Special Warfare Combatant-craft Crewmen. The film was released by Relativity Media on February 24, 2012. The film grossed $81 million worldwide and was nominated at the 70th Golden Globe Awards for Best Original Song.

Why real-life Navy SEAL operators?

In a scene that could have jumped out of a Michael Bay movie — or, in the Obama era of surgical warfare, a video monitor in the White House Situation Room — a team of DEVGRU operators boards a sleek yacht, populated with bikini-clad women, to track down and interrogate a dangerous international smuggler.

As Act of Valor developed with the real-life Navy SEALs on board as advisors, the filmmakers realized that no actors could realistically portray or physically fill the roles they had written and the actual SEALs and SWCC were drafted to star in the film. The SEALs and Special Boat Team members would remain anonymous, as none of their names appear in the film’s credits.

Act of Valor - Navy SEALs
The shooting of a scene with SWCCs from Special Boat Team 22 (Photo: Wikipedia)

The above-mentioned sequence is indeed from a movie: the new release “Act of Valor.” But the SEALs are real-life active-duty operators (the babes and the bad guy are actors), and the episode is an authentic training maneuver, although the yacht was provided by the film’s producers. That mix of fiction and realism is just what the filmmakers bet on to draw audiences to “Act of Valor”.

Recruitment?

Inability to grow the size of the SEAL teams. It is true that we cannot find enough young men to qualify and pass the training and the standards will never be lowered, so the push has been to broaden the recruiting through media.

That is the main goal of this movie-increase recruitment and excitement. Also, there are internal US Special Operations politics between the Army and Naval Special Warfare. Both organizations vying for positions and power (funding) within the Spec Ops structure.

Navy SEAL Trident
U.S. Navy SEAL Trident (Photo: Illustration)

In any event, the SEAL community as whole views this movie as a breach in our security because it shows way too many tactics, comms gear, weapons systems, etc and glorifies the job in a Hollywood-way. There is a lot of tension over this movie and recent press about DEVGRU. I am of the opinion that this type of exposure hurts our future mission capabilities, gives way too much info to enemies and is “over the top” in a way that is hard for me to articulate. I am all for praising the accomplishments in a subtle way through news stories-like the Operation Neptune Spear (bin Laden raid)… But it goes against the grain of what the SEAL teams are all about…

But the surprising, if not unprecedented, use of so many active-duty military personnel, as well as the filmmakers’ embedded access to training missions and material (including a nuclear submarine) has put “Act of Valor” in the crosshairs of critics who question whether the movie crosses the line between entertainment and propaganda and whether the military should be in the movie business at all. The relationship between the Pentagon and Hollywood has raised eyebrows before, even prompting an occasional congressional investigation.

Act of Valor is rated 6,5/10 on the IMDB.

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