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"The only easy day was yesterday."
—Tagline & SEAL motto

Act of Valor is a 2012 war film, revolving around a US Navy SEAL platoon from SEAL Team 7 on a mission to rescue a kidnapped CIA officer and stop terrorists planning an attack against America.

The film has an interesting production history: originally the Navy worked with Bandito Brothers to produce a SEAL recruitment video, akin to the company's recruitment video for Special Warfare Combatant-craft Crewmen; as work progressed the Powers That Be realised that they had enough material for a feature-length movie and began pushing in that direction, a Top Gun equivalent for SEALs.

A trailer can be viewed here.


This film contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Adaptation Expansion: The novelization, which expands further on the characterisation of Bandito Platoon.
  • All There in the Manual: Bandito Platoon, the designator for the protagonists, is only used in supplementary materials. And on the memorial picture frame of Lt. Rorke
    • The surnames of Bandito Platoon are only noted in the novelisation.
  • Armor Is Useless: Played with; Chief's crew skip armor when rescuing Morales, since it's too heavy to swim with. However, they later wear their armor on the raids into Mexico: LT's vest keeps him from being killed by an RPG-7 (with a dud warhead), and helps absorb the blast from the grenade he jumps on, mortally wounding him instead of outright death. Chief's body armor is the only thing that keeps him from being killed outright by Shabal.
  • Band of Brothers: The relationship between Bandito Platoon, and by extension, the rest of the SEALs.
  • Badass Crew: Bandito Platoon, of course.
  • Bad Humor Truck / Car Bomb: The suicide car bomb that Abu Shabal used is an ice cream truck, and it exploded when several school children, including an American child and the US ambassador, were congregated nearby
  • Backed by the Pentagon: Among other things, filming at Navy training facilities, support from Navy aircraft and ships, including a submarine, and active-duty Navy SEALs playing the main characters.
    • Interestingly, the Navy claims that no taxpayer money was used, as the combat scenes were filmed during scheduled training exercises.
  • Bang Bang BANG: Averted: The gunshots are very much authentic-sounding. That was because they were authentic bullets. The cast was really shooting on set.
  • Beard of Evil: Both Christo and Shabal are bearded. Senior Chief, on the other hand, is bearded but good.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Averted. CIA officer Lisa Morales emerges from captivity and torture bruised, bleeding, and crippled.
  • Berserk Button: Don't ever give even the faintest scintilla of a hint that you might not be 100% behind Shabal's scheme. Just...don't.
  • Blasting It Out of Their Hands: During his solo raid on the cartel, Chief Dave's M4 is shot out of his hands, resulting in his shooting hand being hurt and forcing him to switch to his pistol. At Lt. Rorke's funeral, his hand is shown completely wrapped in bandages.
  • Boom! Headshot!: Weimy has a particular talent for dishing out these.
    • This is how CIA officer Walter Ross buys it when the cartel raids Morales' safehouse.
  • Book Ends: The movie opens with Lt. Rorke teaching Chief Dave how to surf, and closes with Chief Dave surfing alone.
  • Bottomless Magazines: Averted, there's quite a bit of reloading. It even adds a bit of dramatic tension when Chief Dave tries to reload his pistol before Shabal can reload his rifle at the end.
  • Cast the Expert: Taken Up to Eleven. The SEAL platoon is played by real life SEALs.
    • Although they were planning to use real SEALs anyway, they had to because, supposedly, no stunt man was physical capable of pulling off what they needed.
  • Chekhov's Skill: "I don't know much about Senior Chief, just that I wouldn't want to be interrogated by him."
  • Code Name: Blackbeard Actual for Lt. Rorke, Blackbeard Main for Mission Control, Whiplash for the SWCC boats, and Bucket for the Army Chinooks.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Lisa Morales is put through this, beginning with a severe beating, and ending with holes drilled through her hands and feet. At first, when Senior Chief goes in to interrogate Christo, the audience is under the impression that bad guys will get what bad guys get, but then modern and actually effective interrogation techniques are used to maximum effect.
  • Cool Boat: The SWCC boats. Fast and bristling with guns, can be inserted and extracted by helicopter, and enough space to evacuate a SEAL team.
    • Christo's yacht is pretty nice, too...
    • The USS Florida, the Ohio-class submarine that receives Ray and Ajay. Carrying 154 Tomahawk cruise missiles, a SEAL delivery minisub, and is near silent when underway at speed.
  • Cool Hat: The Multicam boonie hats worn by the SEALs.
  • Combat Medic: According to the novelisation, this is Mikey's main role in the team.
    • He's also been training the members of Bandito Platoon to be this, in case anything happens to him. This comes in handy when he takes a bullet to the FACE while rescuing Morales.
  • Continuity Nod: After Lt.Rorke tanks a dud RPG, Chief hands it to Sonny to dispose of, since he used to be an Explosive Ordnance Disposal tech.
  • Determinator: An important quality for SEALs, best shown by how Chief Dave will not stop fighting, even after getting his shooting hand shot up and bleeding to death. He takes pretty much a full AK-47 magazine to the chest, and he's still trying to reload his pistol as he blacks out from blood loss.
  • Curb Stomp Battle: Literally, when intelligence officer Morales is attacked and kidnapped. More figuratively when the SEALs take on hordes of mooks.
  • Doing It for the Art: The fire being put down by the SWCC boats? More often than not it's live ammo.
    • That truck getting blown up by an RPG? No special effects whatsoever, that was a real truck getting hit with a real RPG.
  • Dull Surprise: A common complaint about the acting. Sorta justified, as they are active SEALs with no real acting exprience, but that doesn't make their charcterization any less shallow.
  • Eye Scream: One SEAL takes a bullet to the eye during the rescue of Morales. He survives.
  • Elites Are More Glamorous: It's following a Navy SEAL team.
    • In a slight subversion, while SWCCs are considered part of Naval Special Warfare, and work closely with SEALs, they're relatively unknown.
    • Also, the movie shows that while the SEALs are very capable, they rely on a lot of enablers and support to be in the right place and time.
  • Elite Mooks: The Mexican SOF team that supports the SEAL assault into the Mexican cartel.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Shabal's willingness to let children be collateral damage in his assassination of the US ambassador firmly shows that he's a nasty piece of work, while Christo's Psychotic Smirk when he hears Morales get punched by the torturer earns him no sympathy either.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: One gets the inkling that Christo is growing quite distubred by Shabal's megalomania.
  • Faceless Mooks: The Mexican SOF team again, with their balaclavas. They need to hide their identities or risk cartel retribution.
  • Fast Roping: Done twice as a means of transfer from helicopter to boat.
  • First-Name Basis: All of the SEALs, except for Lt. Rorke, Chief Dave, and Senior Chief Miller, who are referred to by their rank.
  • Framing Device: A letter written by Chief Dave, which forms the basis for his narration.
  • Friendly Sniper: Weimy. Played With in that Weimy doesn't necessarily talk more on his missions, or directly address his enemies, which actually makes him a Cold Sniper, if it wasn't for the fact that he's on the good guys' side.
  • Friend or Foe: Lt. Rorke and Chief Dave nearly shoot each other in the cartel factory, but avert and jokingly lampshade this trope.
  • Gatling Good: The SWCCs are equipped with these for More Dakka.
  • Gunship Rescue: The SWCC boats coming to extract the SEALs.
  • Hey, It's That Guy!: Sort of. Chief Dave kind of looks like Cole. Abul Shabal has Cole's voice!
  • Hope Spot: After Rorke jumps on the grenade, it first seems he's died, until we see him blinking a few times... and then his eyes stop moving as the soundtrack goes silent and his heartbeat slows to a halt.
  • Impaled Palm: Lisa Morales gets this with a drill.
  • Infant Immortality: Brutally averted: the first onscreen terror attack is a bomb at a primary school in the Phillipines.
  • In the Blood: Chief Dave's attempt to provide some measure of comfort to Lt. Rorke's son: His great-grandfather was a hero, his father was a hero, and the same blood flows through his veins.
  • Interservice Rivalry: Very strongly averted; the SEALs have no problems coordinating with other Navy assets, and Army Spec Ops Chinooks infil and extract Whiplash.
  • It's Not Supposed to Win Oscars: Fans' responses to the common complaints about shallow characters, cliched story, and dull acting tend to fall somewhere between this and "But it stars REAL NAVY SEALS!!!"
  • It's Raining Men: First scene of the movie. HALO insertion and parachuting make more appearances as a prime method of inserting SEALsinto combat.
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: Senior Chief Miller averts this when interrogating Christo, relying instead on psychological head games and leverage. It does come close to getting to this trope when Christo uses a metronome device to demonstrate the two pronged front on America between him and Shabal, however, due to Miller shattering the metronome in irritation at Christo's attempt at playing mind games on him.
  • Jumping on a Grenade: Performed as a Heroic Sacrifice by Lt. Rorke in the assault on the Mexican cartel.
  • Kicked Upstairs: Rorke is supposed to be getting a promotion to Lt. Commander and an assignment as aide to the President, including carrying the Football Note:[1]. It's portrayed as a positive for Rorke, since he'll have more time for his family.
  • Morality Pet / Papa Wolf: Christo does have a very tiny redeemable factor to his character, and its that he does genuinely care for his family, and it was the prospect of his not seeing his daughter or his wife again, and the fear of what might happen in his absence, that resulted in him telling the SEALs everything he knows about Shabal's plans regarding the ceramic claymore bomb vests during his interrogation. He doesn't regret the decision to team up with Shamal or let him and his Jihadists have the vests, though, as evidenced by his grin when he says to Senior Chief Miller that Shamal's plans cannot be stopped.
  • Made of Iron: In universe:

 "Mikey, you took one to the face, man! You're a hard motherfucker!"

    • Chief Dave. Being shot up with what amounts to pretty much a full AK-47 magazine, he still manages to take out the escaping jihadis using his M4 carbine, and switches to his service pistol when he can't fire the M4 anymore. This was based on a real account, so there's a SEAL out there who really is made of iron (well, several probably).
      • Possibly based on Danny Dietz, who according to the account of the only surviving member of his squad simply would not stop fighting, despite being hit multiple times. His body was found still griping his M9 pistol.
    • Lt. Rorke takes an RPG-7 round to the chest, and survives. Granted, he was wearing his body armor. His luck runs out with the grenade.
  • Mission Control: Blackbeard Main.
  • More Dakka: The entire point of the SWCC boats, which are bristling with general purpose & heavy machineguns and Gatling Good miniguns. Given that their purpose is for extraction of SEALs under fire, this is deliberately invoked.
    • In a subversion, most of the time the SEALs are firing on semiauto, instead of burst or full automatic.
  • New Meat: Averted: all members of Bandito Platoon are experienced SEALs; the least experienced SEAL, Sonny, has 3 SEAL tours and seven years as an EOD tech, defusing bombs.
  • Non-Action Guy: Senior Chief, who serves as the intel specialist and interrogator. Chief's narration suggests that he's more of a semi-Retired Badass and a major part of Mission Control.
  • Non-Action Big Bad: Christo doesn't even try to fight back when his yacht is boarded.
  • Obfuscating Disability: Possibly. The Senior Chief tells Crisco -- uh, Christo that he's hard of hearing, and uses that information as an interrogation technique.
  • Oh Crap: Happens a few times. Particularly noteworthy is when LT and Chief breach a room and come face to face with a suicide bomber, and rush to GTFO before she detonates. They make it out just in time.
  • Retirony: While no one is on the verge of retirement, any Genre Savvy viewer can figure out that the person that keeps talking about taking time off to be with his wife while their baby is born is going to end up doing a Heroic Sacrifice before the end of the movie.
  • One-Man Army: Chief Dave pulls this, fueled by Tranquil Fury, though not entirely by choice, since the Mexican SOF operator with him got shot.
  • Reluctant Warrior: The female jihadist that ended up blowing herself up during the climax is shown to not want to have to essentially go suicide bomber, as she is seen displaying visible reluctance to Shabal of having to commit to it (to which Shabal reassures her that she'll meet up with her husband in Heaven), as well as silently crying when she ultimately goes through with it.
  • Sharp-Dressed Man: Senior Chief's attire when interrogating Christo, contrasting the fatigues worn earlier.
  • Shown Their Work: This is the most accurate fictional depiction of warfare to date in movie history, the battle tactics in this film are all done as realistically as possible (right down to using live ammo) and it shows.
    • When an enemy is shot with a sniper rifle by a SEAL, another SEAL catches the body from his position underwater so it doesn't splash into the river and give away their position.
  • Squad Nickname: Bandito Platoon.
  • Torture Always Works: Averted. The CIA operative doesn't give up any useful information under torture. In another scene, a more effective interrogation is shown, with no torture. It's much more subtle and psychological.
  • Tranquil Fury: Chief Dave enters this after Lt. Rorke's Heroic Sacrifice, proceeding to solo the cartel and terrorist remnants.
  • Translation Convention: Played straight in Ukraine during the conversation between Christo and Shabal. Nicely averted during the interrogation on Christo's yacht: Senior Chief Miller queries Christo in a couple of languages before they settle on English as being most comfortable for them both to converse in.
    • Alternately, as both Abu Shabal and Cristo are seen to be fluent English speakers, they're speaking in English for additional privacy.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Christo; according to Morales, the townspeople love him because he contributes a lot of his drug money to the community.
  • Would Hit a Girl: When one of the female jihadis tries firing on the SEALs, they have no qualms about shooting her back.
  • Would Not Shoot a Civilian: The SEALs are careful to avoid shooting civilians in the Mexican village.
  • Your Princess Is in Another Castle: When Bandito Platoon raids the suicide bomber staging village, they think everything's settled... until Mission Control tells Rorke there's another 8 more terrorists to hunt.
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