I saw Act of Valor this weekend. It is very realistic, very accurate, and all the normal Hollywood fluff and BS has been removed. Which is why Hollywood dislikes the movie so much. This movie is less art than a commentary on the lives... and deaths... of America's greatest.
This is a movie that critics absolutely hate, and the movie goers absolutely love. At Rotten Tomatoes the movie has a 31% from the critics and 85% from the fans.
Why is that?
Most critics didn't like the acting done by the Navy SEALs, it seems. Here's the funny thing. These guys weren't acting. They were being themselves. So when critics don't see the hammed up acting that they normally get from the typical action movie, they think that the acting is flat. What they don't realize is that real operators aren't whingie EFFing drama queens, so you're not going to see all that emotional drivel that you saw in Munich, or Blackhawk Down, or Green Zone, or even (yes, I'll say it) The Hurt Locker.
What you get is a bunch of professionals living their lives in a no-nonsense way, doing their jobs in the same manner. Since Hollywood doesn't understand anything that doesn't have drama in it, they assume that what they're getting is fake. And they don't even appreciate the irony in that.
Many in Hollywood have described this as a propaganda film, one actor going so far as to compare Act of Valor to a Nazi propaganda film. This is a movie crafted from the SEAL perspective. SEALs, like any elite force whether SF, Rangers, or Marines, have a certain perspective and worldview without the equivocating, morally relativistic tripe that comprises the basis of Hollywood's conscience and belief system.
Operators know what they believe. They know who they are. They know their place in this world. Most importantly, they are willing to kill and to die for those beliefs that they hold near and dear to their hearts.
To call Act of Valor propaganda because the movie accurately portrays the SEALs as intensely loyal, firmly determined and dedicated, and singularly focused in their actions and behavior is to completely miss what the movie is about and, ultimately, what the American people are all about. Maybe that's why there's such a vast difference in the reaction to the movie between critics and fans. The reaction by each is indicative of something much more fundamental - the utter disconnect between the fairytale world of Hollywood and the gritty reality that the rest of us live in.
Act of Valor is an intensely powerful movie, one that will stay with me as I go through life. I've heard many others say the same thing.
For those who have served, this is a breath of fresh air. Finally, a story told by operators for operators.