Tuesday, February 28, 2012

In Valor There Is Hope: Act Of Valor

Mike McCoy's and Scott Waugh's Act Of Valor is definitely an aesthetic experience: a story line and characters that reach into your heart and inspire you with honor, patriotism and the very deepest gratitude for the unfailing line of defense protecting this country and it should be required viewing. At this time of election, when President Barak Hussein Obama (that's how his name appears on his birth certificate) wants to cut the military and veteran's benefits, Act Of Valor makes you realize what an "act of insanity" Obama wants to make. While there is plenty of focus on the great shoot-outs and technical marvels the Navy uses, there is also the story of the families who get left behind, the brotherhood the SEALS share and the incredible feats of heroism they have to pull off several times in every mission.
The Only Easy Day Was Yesterday.
When the film opens, one of the SEALS talks about his father liking abstract paintings, and the father would say, just as their is a body hidden in the painting, so there are threats hidden all around, and the world is covered in camouflage. By the end of the film, you believe that this is the gospel truth. Just as the deceased father says, "The worse thing about growing old is that others stop seeing you as dangerous," is really true about the United States: the older we grow in our role as a superpower (if we still are or are going to remain so) is that no one cares if they defy us and what the consequences will be, because one, politicians are afraid of what military action will do to their political careers and two, the media will decide to make a story out of something and do anything to get readers, regardless of what has to be said so the enemies of this country know all ready that they can count on the media to be on their side.
Shabel, wearing a mask, is a convert to Islam and has just driven an ice cream truck into a school with children, under the pretense of selling them ice cream, when a female suicide bomber, serving the kids, detonates her bomb and the resulting explosion is what you see behind him in the photo above.
When we are introduced into the conflict of the film (Jihadists who want to collapse the American economy through a series of acts of suicide bombing so the media will whip up panic and society will come to a stand-still) with Shabel driving an ice cream truck furiously down the road, a female suicide bomber in the back, sweating and nervous. He pulls into a school yard and children surround the truck; the girl in the back starts handing out ice cream while Shabel, still wearing his mask, acts like he's going to "get the kids," and then he walks off. He isn't wearing the mask to protect his identity, he isn't protecting himself from deadly fumes or even the stench in the air from burning bodies; Shabel wears a mask so he won't "take in" what he has done, so he won't reflect on the people he has killed and the methods he has used to do it.
CIA agent Dr. Morales. She is really an important character because she brings out in dramatic relief the differences in attitude about life and women between Jihadists and Americans. We see at least two women blown up (not to mention all the others put in harms way) and others who have volunteered for suicide bombing, but the SEALS are going into a highly protected compound to rescue this woman and save her. The comparison is even more dramatic when Morales tells Christo, "I save women who give birth to men like you," and she does.
The children running up to the ice cream truck, are like dumb people running after peace with Jihadists and willing to take whatever they offer (the word "dumb" appears in a following scene in a scrabble game between two CIA agents) because children are young--they don't have the age that provides experience--those who claim that there can be peace with Jihadists are those who haven't learned anything.
Just before Morales is kidnapped in the Philippines, one of the SEALS mentions that his dad died flying a B-24 Liberator bomber during World War II, which is when the United States lost control in the Philippines, so the symbol of his father dying acts as a political commentary that (perhaps) if we had maintained a greater presence, or at least been more concerned with the radical democracy developing there over the years, we wouldn't be in this mess now, or at least the mess wouldn't be as bad.
You know the SEAL whose wife is pregnant is the one who will die, and that holds true. Why? New life cannot come into being without sacrifice. The son he and his wife have, symbolizes the future of America, for which Rourke gave his life, and can only be guaranteed because of sacrifice, not just by the brave men and women of the military, but each one of us in our own ways.
When thugs break in on CIA agent Morales and her partner, the thugs wrap Morales in a carpet to carry her out. This clearly references Elizabeth Taylor's iconic role as Cleopatra (1963) and means to invoke in the audience's mind a history of women putting themselves in danger for the sake of their country's welfare.
Christo, the smuggler who swaps cocaine for weapons and makes sure the suicide bombers get across the border into America so that he can make money. He's the one Morales has been tracking and has her tortured. He's a really great example of someone who really hates Americans: he could care less who gets hurt or suffers, but he can't bear te thought of anything happening to his own family. A female suicide bomber is told by Sharbel that she will be re-united with her husband in heaven, but she doesn't think about the husbands and fathers she's taking away by blowing up the bomb strapped to her body.
There's another dimension to Morales' torture that should not be overlooked. First, the thugs holding her drill holes, with an electric drill, into each hand and both feet, branding her a Christian after the Crucified Jesus. But her swollen eye, bloodied face, her weak limbs and chapped lips also symbolize America: America isn't being targeted for being Christian, we are no longer a Christian nation, but the enemy is drilling holes into our defenses: the holes in her hand symbolize holes in our strength, and with our military being cut and our outrageous deficit, that is certain. The holes in our feet are symbolic of our will: politician's, our so-called national leaders, are willing to pull our troops out of Afghanistan and other areas needing patrol because they are losing their will against the press and media. A swollen eye out of which we cannot see means we are "seeing only half" of what is going on in the world, because of reduced intelligence and because of the enemy's ability to hide and the chapped lips mean that our words are weak.
Seeing how unified and respectful, how dedicated and loyal these men are to their country, really brought out my contempt for cowardly, self-serving politicians. There aren't any of those in the film, we get a glimpse of only the very best this country has to offer, and it was nice seeing America the strong, America the proud, and not having any cynical liberals throwing tomatoes at you and calling you a fanatic because you love your country. One of the shots done particularly well is the spider in its web eating a bug. As the SEALS are moving in on the compound where Morales is being held, they work together and all their power, strength, intelligence and energy is put into one unified effort to save this woman, and they accomplish it as easily as the spider catching the bug.
If the threats and dangers of the world are in camouflage, then so are the US Navy SEALS, and as the world tries to tear us apart, the SEALS will be there to keep us together, no matter how little the Liberals appreciate them and Obama takes credit for their work.
One of the striking aspects of the film is the way it brings out how all these terrorists are driving American cars and using American weapons. But we see a small factory where vests for suicide bombers is made like an assembly line while some guy plays Brahms on his violin (read: great Western music, music of the very civilization they are trying to bring down). Whereas American ingenuinty has gone into the production of Fords and Chevys, Jihadist intelligence goes into weapons of mass destruction, suffering and terror.
In the back of an American truck from the terrorist camp.
The last thing I will discuss that the film does really well, is highlight the difference between men like the SEALS and the press. The Jihadists know that all they have to do is harness the power of the press, and the press will cause the American economy to collapse because the press won't think about what they are doing, or the consequences of it, they will only think of themselves and what they want to achieve. On the other hand, are the SEALS, the men of the very, very, very highest code of honor, conduct and sacrifice, who know why they make every move and every move is to achieve a unified goal for the safety of this country. When Rourke jumps on the grenade at the end, to protect his company, he is the one who is going to be a dad, he's the one who knows his wife is pregnant and needs him, and he knows he will die instantly by saving his fellow SEALS' lives, and he does it without thinking.
Reading the snide and shallow reviews of the film reveals the problem with Americans today: the very benefits of having been a superpower for so long have turned us into ungrateful brats. At the end of the film, a list of all the SEALS who have died just since 9/11 comes up on the screen, and I realized that professional critics weren't paying any attention to the FACT that those men died preserving the freedom the audience enjoys, those critics were thinking about imaginary standards of acting, or bizarre story lines changes they wanted, or entertaining the idea that the Navy was using this as a recruiting propaganda tool to get them to join up (who would never--even on the Navy's worst day--begin to qualify for service). With the loss of gratitude comes the loss of reality, and that's the battle the enemies of America are winning. The only real valor left in this country is in our military, which means that the only hope left for this country is with our military; our politicians certainly can't lead us anymore because they are too busy about re-election.
The reason the American CIA calls Christo Crisco instead, is because in Hebrew (which Christo is Jewish) Christo means "messiah." The agent calls him Crisco instead because he's really just greasy and slimy.