Act of Valour (2012)

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Released 5-Sep-2012

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category War Audio Commentary-Directors Mike McCoy & Scott Waugh
Deleted Scenes-x 6
Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-x 3 for other films
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2012
Running Time 104:57
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (46:25) Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Mike McCoy
Scott Waugh
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Jason Cottle
Nestor Serrano
Ailsa Marshall
Gonzalo Menendez
Emilio Rivera
Dimiter D. Marinov
Case ?
RPI ? Music Nathan Furst


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

     In Costa Rica a female CIA operative investigating the network of smuggler Christo (Alex Veadov) is abducted and subjected to torture. A Navy Seal team is tasked with her rescue; in the course of the action they find a mobile phone that links Christo with terrorist Abu Shabal (Jason Cottle) and a plot to infiltrate suicide bombers into the US via Mexico. The race is on to stop him.

     The hook of Act of Valour is that the script is based upon reconstructions of actual missions and the “actors” are current serving Special Forces operatives, real Navy Seals. The film was made with the full cooperation of the US military, which provided authentic equipment, weapons and helicopters and allowed filming on a submarine and a carrier. As a result this was never going to be critical of the military; there are no misfits or doubters here, questioning the role of the military. One would expect this from elite special forces sailors anyway and, indeed, this is a film about the values of brotherhood, loyalty, friendship, courage, valour and sacrifice, and keeping the free world safe from those who would harm it, as the voiceover narration tells us on a number of occasions.

     Yet, there are a number of things that save the film from being the propaganda exercise some critics have labelled it. First is the obvious authenticity of the detail of the operations and tactics and the veracity of the action sequences. Shot with a hand held Canon EOS 5D digital camera by cinematographer Shane Hurlbut, the action is immediate, chaotic, loud, explosive and in-your-face. There have been lots of films dealing with military operations where the actors have been to “boot camp” for a few weeks to get them to look and move like soldiers. Sometimes the result is pretty good, but after you have watched Act of Valour you will never look at other films in the same way: these guys are genuine professionals, the real thing, and the ease of movement, communications, cooperation and weapons handling in enclosed and urban environments is astounding. You can really feel that this is exactly how it is done for real. Second is the fact that the terrorists are never demonised; in fact they are shown as operating under genuine beliefs, no different than the Seals operating under their set of beliefs.

     Being real Special Forces operatives can have its down side: these men are not actors. In action it does not matter, they do what comes naturally but there is an awkwardness to some of the non-action scenes, the men not being helped by some less than special dialogue. Yet this dialogue, as well as the scenes with their real families, is necessary for it shows that the men have loved ones, interests and lives beyond the military. Without these scenes they would just be men in uniform, and this could be a mindless action film. But in Act of Valour they are ordinary men doing extraordinary things, and there are consequences; the maimed and dead men, the sacrifice that has an impact upon many, many others.

     Act of Valour is old fashioned in the sense that the good guys are good, the bad guys are bad, and there is never any doubt about who is who. Based upon reconstructions of actual missions with current serving Special Forces operatives, this is a film of obvious authenticity in the detail of the operations and tactics, and the veracity of the action sequences. Those things make Act of Valour well worth watching, and it is a far better film than some have suggested. This is how it is done for real; it is exciting and poignant and I enjoyed it far more than I had expected.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Act of Valour is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.40:1, the original theatrical ratio being 2.35:1. The film is 16x9 enhanced.

     As noted, the film was shot with a hand held Canon EOS 5D digital camera by cinematographer Shane Hurlbut and the results are spectacular, probably as good as one is going to get on SD (the HD Blu-ray should be spectacular!) Every detail, except for POV and various other devices such as night vision goggles, is clean and sharp. In the jungle, individual leaves are clear, spider webs sparkle. Colours are not exactly natural; it is hard to describe but they seem to have a sheen which adds to their depth and they look beautiful. The night sequences are wonderful with deep blacks and exceptional shadow detail.

     Other than the occasional slight ghosting, artefacts were absent.

     The English subtitles for the hearing impaired are in a white font. When the subtitles are not enabled, they come on automatically to translate the Spanish and Russian dialogue in a bluish / white font.

     The layer change at 46:25 resulted in a slight pause.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     Audio is an English Dolby Digital 5.1 at 448 Kbps plus an English descriptive audio Dolby Digital 2.0 at 224 Kbps for the vision impaired, and an audio commentary.

     The audio track is excellent. Dialogue can occasionally be a bit hard to understand, but there is not a lot anyway and there are the subtitles. The surrounds are constantly in action with music, engines and ambient sound, such as jungle insects, but burst into life during the action sequences, adding to the enveloping chaos. Engines roar, bullets, ricochets, explosions, falling debris fly from around the sound stage, the sub-woofer supporting the explosions and general mayhem, placing you right in the middle of the action.

     The descriptive audio is in a neutral male voice.

    Lip synchronisation was fine.

     The original score by Nathan Furst was effective. The end title song For You is performed by Keith Urban.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

     On start-up the following trailers play and need to be skipped: Lockout (1:29), The Cabin in the Woods (2:15) and Magic Mike (2:24).

Directors Commentary

     Co-directors Mike “Mouse” McCoy and Scott Waugh share an entertaining, if not overly technical, commentary speaking about their intentions, locations, developing particular scenes, how certain shots were done, shooting with digital cameras and the authenticity of various actions and events, including the use of live fire in some sequences. Talk about genuine!! Apparently they had shot some training videos for the navy, and as a result were asked to make this film.

Deleted Scenes

     A range of deleted and extended scenes, most of which were probably cut for pacing reasons as they generally give more information about the characters. There is no play all option. The scenes are:

Theatrical Trailer (2:18)

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     The US Region 1 release of Men of Valour has similar extras but is in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1. The US Region A Blu-ray is 2.40:1 and includes in addition to our extras a behind the scenes and interviews.

     For DVD, our Region 4 is the better release as it is close to the theatrical aspect ratio.

Summary

     Act of Valour is a far better film than some critics have suggested. It is about brotherhood, loyalty, friendship, courage, valour and sacrifice, using current serving Special Forces operatives. The result is a film of obvious authenticity in the detail of the operations and tactics and the veracity of the action sequences, which are truly astonishing.

     The video and audio are very good. Extras are genuine and interesting, including a directors’ commentary and deleted scenes.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Wednesday, August 29, 2012
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

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