Take a bunch of real-life active-duty US Navy SEALs and what do you get? Act of Valor is a fictionalised account of the elite force's operations with scenes that would keep army boys' eyes glued to the screen.
When a simple mission to recover a kidnapped CIA operative leads to a much amplified terrorist threat spearheaded by smuggler Cristo (Alex Veadov) and jihadist Muhammad Abu Shabal (Jason Cottle), a tight-knitted group of Navy SEALs sets off to make things right. The process, of course, includes adrenaline-packed fights and loud, rowdy battlefield technology to propound the courage and sacrifice this elite group has to bear.
For all the bad stuff he has done, Cristo is surprisingly mild and easily subdued, even when his family is threatened. As for Shabal, the villain is portrayed near crazy. Incredulously, Filipinos are to be smuggled into US to bomb Las Vegas. Why Filipinos? No idea. And Jewish Cristo's reason for working with Muslim Shabal? To accomplish something "huge" is hardly convincing.
Definitely a cliched plot – the death of the narrator's friend is almost expected right from the beginning, one hinting of kids left behind, and another SEAL keeping his wife's lock of hair… Despite all these, there weren't much screen time for emotions especially that of grappling with responsibility as a new dad or death of a comrade.
Still, if the story contains the least bit of truth, it is chilling how oblivious we can be and how fragile life is. Ironically, for the propaganda film it is, the army boys in the back row commented in Mandarin: "One random grenade can kill you. Better cherish life, don't join such forces; just watch more movies like this!"