Act of Valor is a 2012 American action film produced and directed by Mike McCoy and Scott Waugh, and written by Kurt Johnstad.
It stars Alex Veadov, Roselyn Sánchez, Nestor Serrano and Emilio Rivera, as well as active duty US Navy SEALs and US Navy Special Warfare Combatant-craft Crewmen.
Act of Valor 2 is currently under development.
In the Philippines, a terrorist kills the US ambassador, his son, and dozens of children at an elementary school, using a vehicle-borne IED disguised as an ice cream truck. The mastermind, a Chechen terrorist named Abu Shabal (Jason Cottle), escapes to a training camp in Indonesia. Elsewhere in Costa Rica, two CIA operatives, Walter Ross (Nestor Serrano) and Lisa Morales (Roselyn Sánchez) meet to consolidate intelligence about their target, a drug smuggler named Mikhail “Christo” Troykovich. Christo’s men kill Ross and capture Morales, who is imprisoned in a jungle compound and tortured.
At Coronado, the members of Bandito Platoon, SEAL Team 7 are at home. Lieutenant Rorke (Rorke Denver) confides to Chief Dave that his wife is pregnant and has the entire team spend time together with their families until their next deployment. A squad from the platoon consisting of Rorke, Dave, Wiemy, Mikey, Ray, Sonny, and Ajay, is then deployed to Costa Rica to exfiltrate Morales.
The seven Navy SEAL’s insert into the jungle via HALO (high altitude low opening parachute) and hold position outside the compound all night. At dawn, they approach the compound, hear Morales being tortured, and decide to enter the compound early. Rorke and Weimy, the team sniper, provide cover for the other five, led by Dave, who conduct room-clearing, engaging several enemy guards. Mikey is shot in the head, blinding him in one eye, and knocking him unconscious, though he survives. The SEAL’s extract Morales, escaping with her and recovering a cellphone full of the information she had gathered. However, the gunfight alerts the enemy quick reaction force down the road, who drive toward the camp. The SEAL’s commandeer an enemy truck and exfiltrate. The hot pursuit forces them to revert to a tertiary extraction point where SWCCs in a pair of SOC-R boats extract the team and neutralise the enemy pursuit with miniguns.
Christo and Shabal, who are revealed to have been childhood friends, meet in Kiev. Christo knows the CIA is watching him and informs Shabal that subordinates will complete their project, which is to equip suicide bombers with specialised vests.
On the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard, Rorke is informed that the intelligence recovered confirms Shabal and Christo were working together. Shabal, an old-school Muslim terrorist, seeks to bring jihad to the US, while Christo provides the routes for smuggling drugs and people into the US Ajay and Ray are sent to Somalia, where an arms transfer involving Shabal is taking place. The remaining SEAL’s, comprising Rorke, Dave, Sonny and Weimy, stay in the US in case the terrorists make it in. Miller himself has been reassigned to SEAL Team Four, hunting for Christo somewhere on the oceans. Lieutenant Rorke gives Dave a letter to give to his family in case he is killed.
Shabal and sixteen terrorists are found to be on an island off Baja California, where the SEAL’s act to secure the island, killing eight terrorists. Shabal and eight others escape. Elsewhere, in the South Pacific, SEAL Team Four captures Christo and interrogate him. Christo and Shabal are found to be associates and that there is a plan to detonate vest bombs throughout the US, in order to cause panic and economic disruption with the goal to surpass that of the September 11 attacks.
The SEAL’s are informed that Shabal is en route to the US via tunnels underneath a milk factory, and are ordered to link up with Mexican Special Forces and neutralise the remaining targets. Arriving at the factory, the SEAL’s and Mexican forces launch an assault there. During the gunfight, a combatant throws a grenade, and Rorke dives on it to save his team before it detonates, killing him. Dave pursues the terrorists and shoots them as they try to escape through the tunnels. He is then shot several times and gravely wounded by Shabal, who is intercepted and killed by Sonny before he could execute Dave.
At home, Rorke is given a military funeral with full honours, where the SEAL’s pay their respects. It is then revealed that Dave’s narration throughout the movie was a written letter meant for Rorke’s son.
The film ends with a dedication to every US Navy SEAL and Special Warfare Combatant Crew (SWCC) killed in action since 9/11 along with a listing of their names as well as a photo montage of other everyday public servants (soldiers, police, firefighters, etc.).
In 2007, Mike McCoy and Scott Waugh of Bandito Brothers Production filmed a promotional ad video for the Special Boat Teams which led the US Navy to allow them to use actual active duty SEALs and Special Boat Team members.
After spending so much time working closely with the SEALs and SWCC, McCoy and Waugh conceived the idea for a modern-day action movie about this covert and elite fighting force.
As Act of Valor developed with the SEAL’s on board as advisors, the filmmakers realised that no actors could realistically portray or physically fill the roles they had written and the actual SEAL’s and SWCC were drafted to star in the film.
The SEAL’s and Special Boat Team members would remain anonymous, as none of their names appear in the film’s credits.
For the Navy, the film is an initiative to recruit SEAL’s and SWCC.
According to The Huffington Post, the Navy required the active-duty SEALs to participate.
Following a bidding war with Dark Castle Entertainment, Alcon Entertainment (both companies had their own respective distribution deals with Legendary’s then-partner Warner Bros.), Lionsgate, and FilmDistrict, Relativity Media acquired the rights to the project on 12 June 2011 for $13 million and a $30 million in prints and advertising commitment. Deadline Hollywood called it “the biggest money paid for a finished film with an unknown cast”. The production budget was estimated to be between $15 and $18 million.
Filming took place in Cambodia where an explosion was shot in Phnom Penh with 300 children as extras. Scenes were shot in San Diego at Blue Foot Bar and in a house in the North Park area. Other locations included Mexico, Puerto Rico, Ukraine, Florida, and at the John C. Stennis Space Center in Mississippi.
The crew filmed at Navy training sites to provide realistic settings, such as a drug cartel base, a terrorist camp on an isolated island, and a smuggler’s yacht.
Cinematographer Shane Hurlbut used Canon EOS 5D Mark II cameras with Zeiss ZE and Panavision Primo lenses. The cameras followed the SEALs’ planned out missions in the film. Hurlbut used an 18mm Zeiss ZE mounted on the SEALs’ helmets to capture their point of view. The 25mm Zeiss ZE was used to capture natural light coming through windows. The 21mm Zeiss ZE was used as a stake cam so a truck could drive over it. The Navy held final cut privileges in order to remove any frames to address security concerns and kept raw footage to use for real-life training and other purposes.
Relativity Media released the film’s soundtrack on 21 February 2012. It includes 10 songs by country music artists. The first cut on the soundtrack, Keith Urban’s “For You”, was released as a single. The song was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song.
Act of Valor was scheduled to be released on 17 February 2012 in the US to coincide with Presidents’ Day, but was pushed back to 24 February 2012. The film was released in the UK and Ireland on 23 March as Act of Valour by Momentum Pictures.
The film opened at #1 at the box office, earning $24.5 million in its opening weekend from 3,039 theatres for an average of $8,054 per theatre.
Many reviews, both positive and negative, expressed praise for the action sequences while criticising the plot and acting.
Act of Valor was released on Blu-ray Disc and DVD on 05 June 2012 with a rating of R.
The film was a 2012 Teen Choice Awards nominee for Choice Action Movie.
Production & Filming Details
- Directors: Mike McCoy and Scott Waugh.
- Producers: Mike McCoy and Scott Waugh.
- Writer: Kurt Johnstad.
- Music: Nathan Furst.
- Cinematography: Shane Hurlbut.
- Editors: Michael Tronick and Scott Waugh.
- Production: Bandito Brothers.
- Distributor: Relativity Media.
- Release Date: 24 February 2012.
- Running Time: 111 minutes.
- Rating: R.
- Country: US.
- Language: English.