Act of Valor is almost one of those films that is near impossible to review, simple because to say anything negative about the cast, crew, or movie in general is to say that you automatically hate all of the Armed Forces and therefore hate America by default. I say "almost", because there have been numerous negative reviews of this film, and of course every single one has been given the typical, "you-must-hate-America-so-shut-your-mouth" treatment. I see no reason why my review will be given any less of a response.
There is a reason why Navy SEALs aren't typically employed as actors. Allow me to applaud the constant sacrifices of those to serve in our Armed Forces and I am certain that Navy SEALs are great at many things, but sadly, acting isn't one of them, and this is the greatest downfall of this movie. One could claim that asking for a good performance from this cast is asking too much, because the film is about the action, not the acting capabilities of the cast. I would agree with that argument only to a certain extent, in that we only care about the action if we care about those who are at stake, and there is never a moment in this film where we get to know any member of the cast past their one-dimensional roles.
Outside their fighting abilities, these characters are never developed on any personal level. We are given little to no back story, their personality traits are bland, and the dialogue is beyond dull. If the audience had only been given a reason to care about these men, we could have gotten invested in their plight and genuinely cared about their struggle, because the action and cinematography alone almost carry this film! There were several moments in this movie that I prayed we would get just one good performance or two because the action sequences are some of the best I've seen this decade, but that's all for nothing if you can't give us a reason to cheer for our protagonists.
I really wanted to like this film, and in the hands of better screenwriters and directors (as well as actors), this could have been good. Sadly, we're given a clichéd plot and sub-par acting that simply leaves us wanting more.