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Thanks to the good folks at 5.11 Tactical (you know, the guys that make pants) Chris and I just saw the upcoming film Act of Valor in its entirety. Well, us and about 300 of our closest friends. Here’s what I thought.

Before the movie started Scott Waugh, one of the directors, came out and spoke to us for a bit. Among the nuggets of knowledge that he imparted to us audience members were two things that really struck me.

First, everyone in the film who appears in uniform is actually an active duty member of a military (typically ours). These aren’t actors — these are the actual guys with their toes on the line. And while their lack of acting pedigree does shine through their performance from time to time, for the majority of the film these guys are rock solid. Probably because to them, it’s just another practice mission. But this time there’s some goddamned civvies hanging about filming them.

The second really interesting nugget of information was that they used LIVE AMMUNITION on set to get the guns to look right and act right. So when one of the characters fires a M110 SASS on screen, the recoil is real and not him trying to make it look real…which really only looks even more fake. Live ammo hasn’t been used on a movie set in over half a century (I thought Cross of Iron was the last movie to do so, but it turns out I was wrong) and the ability to use it without any injuries or fatalities in this film is really a testament to the abilities of those pulling the triggers.

I’m no movie critic (just a gun critic), but I personally really enjoyed the film and if the thunderous applause it received as the credits rolled is any indication so did the rest of the audience. The film gets a little bogged down at points and the plot seems like it was ripped from the next Call of Duty game, but the action sequences make this movie shine brighter than anything produced in the last decade.

I’d give it two solid thumbs up. But then again what the hell do I know about movies?

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  1. Damned right it gets two thumbs up!

    Maybe we should have called this “Dumm and Leghorn At The Movies.”. It will be hard to make it an ongoing series unless we set up an Xbox 360 Netflix party. And I don’t think Nick has an Xbox.

  2. Glad to know that come February 24, we won’t be watching Alec Baldwin, Tom Cruise, Leonardo DiCaprio, and other Hollywood losers pretending to be real men.

  3. According to Marshall Fine’s excellent biography about Sam Peckinpah, the director insisted on the use of live shotgun rounds during a corridor shootout in the Getaway, because the practical effects crew weren’t able to get the look he was after for the “missed” shots the characters were firing at one another.

  4. If there happens to be any photography geeks reading this, the entire film was filmed using a Canon 5D MkIII and Canon 7D HD DSLRs and not traditional video cams

    • @Pascal: You mean 5D MKII right since the III isn’t out yet 😉 Sounds awesome, more and more shows are using those cams and the look they produce is amazing. I have my D4 on order, should be here mid feburary!

  5. It’s about freakin’ time that we don’t have to suffer through another infinite – capacity Hollywood magazine, or a guy taking out a helicopter with a flying motorcycle, or a 100 lb chick punching out a 240 lb guy.

    Real guns with real ammo?! Mother of God! – I’m going to bring extra underpants to this movie!

  6. Buy it when it comes out on DVD. Still my favorite was The Pacific. Sledge really was a real hero. I thought his book With The Old Breed was great!

  7. How do you think the director got the DOD on board with this? I wouldn’t think they would be ok with showing the faces of 8 active duty Navy Seals. I would have thought they would have thrown a fit about using live ammunition to film a movie with active duty personnel. Dont get me wrong, I am stoked, and can’t wait to see it, just wondering how he got the DOD on board.

    • The US military has a powerful PR machine. The long term recruiting potential of a film like this outweighs short term and unlikely OPSEC issues.

      The only caveat is that your film must depict US forces in a positive light. You’d be surprised how much support Hollywood can get from US DOD

  8. If you go to the website itself,, there’s a longer cut called “The Making of.” I was totally floored when I found out about it. Just got the book too, but don’t want to read it cuz it was written after the film as opposed to most that are before.
    Just when you think Hollywood has thrown in the towel on originality, they come up with this. Just on premise alone I give it two thumbs up also.

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