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September 13, 2012
Act of Valour Blu-Ray Review
Cinema Release Blu-Ray Release Distributor Director
3/5/20125/9/2012Village RoadshowMike McCoy
Scott Waugh
Video Codec Sound Format OFLC Rating Star(s)
AVC MPEG-4DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1MA15+US Navy SEALs

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Act of Valour uses real US Navy SEALs.

Last year, around the same time that the buzz was rising for the FPS's Battlefield 2 and Modern Warfare 3 the trailer for Act of Valour (Australian spelling) was released that promised to show you real US Navy SEALs in action in the film. It looked thrilling and perfectly suited to fans of those previously mentioned games. Produced for a very modest $US12 million the movie was a major success in America taking $US70 million, but struggled outside that territory with only a further $US10 million. Still, with solid previews and a premise that will interest gamers we were keen to check the Blu-Ray out. So here we go.

When a mission to recover a kidnapped CIA operative Lisa Morales (Sanchez) unexpectedly results in the discovery of an imminent, terrifying global threat, an elite team of highly trained Navy SEALs must immediately embark on a heart-stopping secret operation, the outcome of which will determine the fate of us all.

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The SEALs move silently along the river.
While the storyline is adequate, although not great we must add, the big selling point of this film is to see real US Navy SEALs in action, and you certainly get that in this film with several sequences full of action and showing off their abilities to the fullest. Real HALO jump? Check. Real SEAL tactics? Check. Using real bullets in action scenes? Check. This film really has it all, and even, at times, moves into first person perspectives briefly to "immerse" you into the action. Oh, and despite this being shot like a documentary, this is a film filled with quick cutting or shaky cameras movements. Kudos to the filmmakers for that!

Our biggest problem with this film is actually the pacing with the early hostage recuse sequence being the films highlight which far outshines the films finale which, while action packed, lacks the "coolness" of the hostage rescue, and subsequent escape, sequence. Also bogging the film down are some of the dialogue sequences. We loved the mission briefings (Which were apparently re-written by the actual solders to be more authentic then the script) but there were some other dialogue based scenes that bogged the pacing down.

In the last couple of days rumours have surfaced that Relativity Media are shopping this franchise around to create an Act of Valour TV series, and we'd be very keen to check it out, if only to see real US Navy SEALs doing their thing. As a standalone film the plot is ok, and the action sequences superb, but some of the slower dialogue moments bog the film down a little too much. Still, action fans will likely enjoy this film.

It's fair to say that this far into the Blu-Ray format's life something has to go disastrously wrong for a transfer not to impress, with most issues arising from the source material rather than the transfer. Using the AVC MPEG-4 codec and framed at the films original 2.40:1 aspect ratio this transfer is given plenty of room to breathe with a bit rate that often approaches 40Mbps according to our PS3.

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At times, the cinematography is superb.
For the most part this film looks pretty fantastic with the mixture of 35mm film and Canon EOS 5D Mark II DSLR's capturing the film. It's a bit of a shame then that, at times, the film has some technical issues - some scenes are very soft (primarily those at night in Costa Rica), some scenes demonstrate some weird motion judder.

Act of Valour is presented on Blu-Ray with a lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (24-bit/48Khz) track that provides plenty of life and authenticity to the audio. Surround sound channels are put to good use at times, although they can go missing for parts of the film as well, while your sub-woofer will be given a decent work out during the battle sequences which will see a wide range of weapons, including .50 Cal machine guns, used as well as the occasional explosion. Dialogue is typically clear, however there will be occasions when you may not quite follow what the soldiers are saying due to the terminology.

There aren't too many other audio options on this Blu-Ray other than An Audio Description for the Vision Impaired which is encoded in Dolby Digital 2.0 at 224kbps. Disappointing it's not in surround sound but it gets the job done. It must also be noted that the back of the Australian case says a Dolby Digital 2.0 track is included - that is not the case (unless you count the audio descriptive track).

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The SEALs take up an over watch approach.
There is only one single subtitle track which is Descriptive Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired which, from our samples in the film are accurate to the dialogue in the film.

This Blu-Ray release is given a number of extras to go through, the highlights of which are certainly the director's commentary and the Interviews with SEAL team members.

Director's Commentary: This audio commentary, with directors Scott Waugh and Mouse McCoy, is an in-depth discussion about the films creation including shooting locations, the actors and soldiers involved and plenty of production details. It's definitely worth a listen however I feel more could have been added by one of the SEALs in the commentary providing technical information about their tactics and equipment (obviously within limits of what they can say).

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Real HALO jumps were filmed for Act of Valor.
Deleted Scenes (9:36/HD): This disc contains six deleted scenes in total ("Christmas in the Barrack", "MREs", "Shabal in Winter Palace", "Christo's House", "Shabal on Boat", "Shabal in Kiro") and there are some nice moments, but would have slowed the films pace down even more.

Interviews with Active Navy SEALs (30:44/HD): Here we have interviews with real SEALs including "Rourke" (4:20), "Dave" (5:36), "Mikey" (2:31), "Ray" (4:29), "Sonny" (2:34), "Ajay" (5:02) and "Weimy" (6:12) in which they share some stories about their careers. I have the utmost respect for these guys, as well as armed forces in Australia and many other countries, and hearing from them directly is inspirational, and they tell some amazing stories.

Making Of (5:23/HD): While this is the "Making of" documentary it's actually more a 5 minute trailer for the film with some brief comments from various crew.

Real Bullets (2:09/HD): Another promotional piece but with some interesting elements about using live ammunition in the film. Seeing the truck after being peppered with 4,000 rounds is amazing.

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Even mission briefings are authentic.
Real Seals Real Tactics (2:27/HD): Another promo piece this time focusing on using real SEALs for the film. Not only short, but repeats stuff from other extras.

Silent Warriors (2:47/HD): Yep another promotional piece, again with more repetition.

"For You" Music Video by Keith Urban (4:23/HD): Here we have the video clip for the song used in the film with clips from the film.

Making of the Music Video (3:58/HD): Isn't it somewhat sad that the best "Making of" on this disc, isn't for the film itself but rather than music video clip. Sad, but true.

Director's Intro (3:12/HD): A brief intro from the directors about creating this film. Apparently this played before the film in cinemas (I can't personally verify that though).

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Roselyn Sanchez. One of the few real actors.
Theatrical Trailer (2:23/HD): The rather impressive Theatrical Trailer for the film.

The authenticity which using real Navy SEALs brings to the battle sequences in Act of Valour is fantastic - fans of action films, or even video game based shooters will get a kick seeing this. Unfortunately, the film does bog down at times when off the battlefield. Still, this is a release which action fans should check out.

Review By: Dave Warner


Note: All images in this article are Copyrightę Village Roadshow. They are only indicative of the movie and not sourced from the vastly superior Blu-Ray disc format.