At this point, when critics hate a movie for being "flag-waving," "simplistic," and "jingoistic," I'm almost certainly going to love the film.
Such is the case with Act of Valor, which generated quite a bit of buzz by being the top-grossing movie over Oscar weekend - despite not a single big name in the cast.
Indeed, most of the cast are active-duty SEALS. This means their acting is a little stiff, but their emotion and professionalism is amazing.
The storyline is solid and while not terribly complicated, has the virtue of carrying the ring of truth. Unlike many Hollywood projects that claim to be "torn from the headlines" this one is extremely plausible.
Make no mistake, this is a powerful film, and while much attention has been lavished on the action scenes (which set a new standard for accuracy and pulse-pounding tension), the emotional aspect is profound.
I'm sure other aspiring filmmakers will take note of this project, which cost only $12 million to make and looks to recoup ten times that.
Perhaps the most amusing part of my evening was watching the trailers. There was one for some insipid, weepy romance starring the kid of High School Musical (all buff, tattooed and ex-soldierified) and then the G.I. Joe sequel (I have a warm place in my heart for that movie - saw it on an overseas military base and the crowd response to his hilarious inaccuracies was...sublime).
Anyhow, the juxtaposition of these two Hollywood productions - the one all melodramatic and the other stuff with meaningless special effects - demonstrated that even when they try to appeal to the same audience as Act of Valor, the establishment can't get it right any more.
Go see it in the theater. It's worth the money.