Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Act of Valor: Tribute or Recruitment Ad?

Act of Valor was released this past weekend to what was apparently a receptive public given its weekend gross of nearly $25M, beating out others starring considerably better known Hollywood celebrities. The only people I recognized from AoV were Roselyn Sanchez (Rush Hour 2) and Nestor Serrano (apparently in several movies but I couldn't name one of them... but I did, at least, recognize him).

AoV was an action movie but starred real heroes instead of Hollywood stereotypes. Active Duty Navy SEALS played the main roles in the movie, and the results were much as you'd expect. None will win awards for their portrayals, since they 'acted' just like normal people would given the situation. There was no 'high drama' or overly-strained dialogue. It was real people showing people what they do for a living.

And, that's the problem apparently. Had this been any other cookie-cutter Hollywood product starring Stallone or Damon or a squad of One Tree Hill alumni, critics would have simply given it 3 stars, commented on its lack of large-scale resolution, and moved on. But, the simple fact that these guys were actual soldiers turned AoV' into a political debate months prior to its release.

I've read comments disparaging the service. I've read articles discussing the fact that Hollywood is promoting a 'war agenda' and 'Republican ideologies.' I've read how people weren't going to see it, because it is a recruitment tool and nothing else.

I couldn't disagree more with that oversimplification. When has Hollywood ever promoted anything Republican? Put Jeremy Renner in the lead role, and no one even mentions anything. Then, it's simply an action movie.

In this day and age, anyone with a keyboard or a blog (coughcoughcough) feels they have the stage to spout hyperbole and hypocrisy. It's no more a recruitment ad for the Navy than The Expendables was for hired guns or S.W.A.T. was for LA policemen. Unfortunately, our society has reached the point that individuals throw their political agendas and leanings at every topic and assume the same of everyone else.

Don't get me wrong, I fully expect there are people on the other side of the political spectrum that support the movie solely because the other side hates it... or solely because active-duty service members are in it. These are just as faulty arguments in my eyes.

The movie has amazing action set pieces and serious moments regarding our soldiers and the trials they are made to endure. It makes you thankful for the members of our armed forces and gives you a glimpse of a small part of what they have to go through on a daily basis, often without any fanfare or media coverage.

There isn't a huge celebrity there to save the day. There isn't a huge, last-second save of a critical symbol of Americanism like the Statue of Liberty or White House. There are just guys, doing their jobs, and dealing with the aftermath.

If you politicize, marginalize, or assign some agenda to this movie, that's on YOU... not the movie, and you're doing yourself a disservice.

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