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Week In Review

The 168 Turnaround: Act of Valor—Popcorn or Propaganda?

THIS WEEK: October 9 – 15, 2011

The Week At Large
It ain’t easy being dead.  Just ask the handful of extras who were injured during filming for Paul W. S. Anderson’s Resident Evil 5.  Apparently, while filming in Toronto, a wheeled platform collapsed, causing 16 actors dressed as zombies to fall nearly twenty feet to the ground.  Luckily, no one was seriously injured.  Speaking of the dead, Fox has just announced that, yes, there will be a Die Hard 5, only it will be titled A Good Day To Die Hard.  And better yet, it will be released on Valentine’s day, 2013.  That seems appropriate, right?  And if one unnecessary sequel isn’t enough, then how about another?  CBC news is now reporting that celebrated crime novelist P.D. James has written a sequel to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.  Set for release on November 3, the sequel, Death Comes to Pemberley, begins with…you guessed it: someone dying.

The Close Up
In high school, I was friends with a guy who wanted desperately to be either a FBI agent or a Navy SEAL.  The problem, of course, was that he, like everyone at our high school, was Canadian.  While Canada does have something similar to both the FBI and the Navy SEALS, it does not have the kind of American military wet dreams that Hollywood pumps out on a routine basis, which makes the Canadian equivalents far less appealing to guys like my old buddy.

And guess what?  Good ol’ Hollywood has cranked out a real doozie with the action film Act of Valor.  No, this isn’t just another uber patriotic, anti-terrorism flick.  This time around, Tinseltown is trying something new.  Straight from the horse’s mouth:

“An unprecedented blend of real-life heroism and original filmmaking, Act of Valor stars a group of active-duty Navy SEALs in a powerful story of contemporary global anti-terrorism. Inspired by true events, the film combines stunning combat sequences, up-to-the minute battlefield technology and heart-pumping emotion for the ultimate action adventure.”

If that isn’t enough, check out the trailer below:

If you ask me, I’d say that this film stinks of pro-military propaganda.  Given the title, you can bet your life savings that the SEALS in this film will be portrayed as agents of all things that are good and right and gosh darn manly.  These people are heroes; their adversaries are villains.  Most important of all, these heroes are not only manly and tough, but they’re also pretty damn cool.  That scene with the SEAL sniper and the SEAL in the water who’s ready to catch the shot bad guy?  Manly, action awesomeness!

The first poster for Act of Valor

And don’t get me wrong.  I have a lot of respect for the men and women who serve in the armed forces.  Though I may disagree with the missions they are sent on, I respect their decision to serve and their willingness to sacrifice themselves for their country.

With that said, however, I can only roll my eyes at the sweeping generalizations of right and wrong demonstrated in most Hollywood action films, and likely to be demonstrated in this film as well.  But what separates this film from other action flicks is that Act of Valor purports to be true to life, what with its active-duty Navy SEAL cast.  Truth is, forgetting its cast, Act of Valor is still Hollywood hokum—no more and no less.  Suggesting otherwise opens a whole new can of worms.

But here’s the rub:  I would actually like to see this movie.  Really, I mean that.  Cheese aside, Act of Valor looks like a hell of a lot of fun, and I wouldn’t mind shelling out the $10 to see it in theatres.

This complicates my position, I know.  But I can’t help it—part of me cries out for this kind of fantasy real-life experience.  I’m not even American, and yet, like my friend, I’d love to be a Navy SEAL, or at least what I can imagine and pretend a Navy SEAL is.

Am I part of the problem?  Yeah, I think I just might be.  But convince me otherwise—I’d sure like you to.  More importantly, Hollywood would like you to.

The 168 Turnaround is a week-in-review column, a place for me to reflect on the week’s most interesting pop culture news items.  If it mattered to me or I think it might matter to you, then it will be here.  If I’ve overlooked an important news item, or if you have a comment or question, please leave a response below.  Thank you for reading.


One thought on “The 168 Turnaround: Act of Valor—Popcorn or Propaganda?

  1. Act of the Triumph of the Will

    Posted by Anonymous | February 8, 2012, 10:31 pm

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