Act of Valor

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
Act of Valor Movie Poster Image
Real-life SEALs can't save poorly made, violent movie.
  • R
  • 2012
  • 101 minutes

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 11 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 26 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

The movie is violent and heroic at the same time. It emphasizes brotherhood, family, service, valor, and commitment, but its heroes also kill lots of bad guys -- albeit for the country's good.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Several real-life Navy SEALs star in the movie, and while their teamwork, discipline, heroism, and training are on display, so is their dangerous, violent job. The soldiers are all very family oriented and are ready to make big sacrifices when necessary.


Tons of blood and loud, jarring action violence. In a particularly brutal sequence, a woman is kidnapped, beat up, and tortured. Dozens of children are killed by a truck bomb. Viewers see several suicide bombers -- including some who look like teen girls -- ready to die for their cause. Terrorists are shot in the head. Soldiers engage in shoot-outs with high-powered guns; there's also face-to-face combat. Some characters are injured, and many die, including some of the good guys.


One scene features several women in skimpy bikinis. A soldier's wife is pregnant, and they share a loving goodbye. Some brief innuendo.


Profanity is sporadic, but "f--k" is heard a few times, and "s--t" is heard more than once, in addition to "ass," "damn," "hell," "bulls--t," and some swearing in Spanish and Tagalog.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

The soldiers are seen casually enjoying drinks (mostly beer) from time to time, mainly in the beginning of the movie.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Act of Valor is a fact-based action movie about the Navy SEALs -- who are mostly played by real-life active-duty SEALs. Strong violence includes a brutal sequence of a woman being kidnapped, beat up, and tortured, and a scene in which many children are killed by truck bomb. There's also tons of guns and shooting, blood, graphic shootings, injuries, and death. Language isn't constant but includes occasional uses of "f--k" and "s--t," as well as some brief innuendo. The movie's message is mixed: On the one hand, the characters are unquestionably brave and selfless team members who value family, country, and sacrifice; but on the other, their job is violent and requires injuring and killing others. The values that viewers bring to the movie will affect how they ultimately perceive its messages.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byfrancecl February 27, 2012

Fathers Bring your 12-yr Olds to this Movie!

This is a great movie, but I disagree that it is for adults only. Here’s my review of “Acts of Valor”. I wanted my son who will be 13 in two months to see it... Continue reading
Adult Written byMickel February 25, 2012

US Navy Seals not good role models? Really?

I registered just so I can throw the BS flag on giving this movie 2/5 on role models. I cannot fathom how real life US Navy Seals aren't exemplary role mo... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byLuke15 July 14, 2014

Act of Valor, this film is based on real acts of valor...and it truly is.

Where do I start!
The plot of the film:
The film Act of Valor (Rated R for strong violence including some torture, and some strong language) is based of the re... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byEmuMaster May 29, 2019

Good Plot but Brutal

Its a good movie but can be brutal. Many people are shot and killed. A woman is tortured with injuries shown, very bloody, her hands are drilled right through (... Continue reading

What's the story?

An international smuggler (Alex Veadov) has reunited with an old friend (Nestor Serrano) who has become a terrorist. A CIA agent (Roselyn Sanchez) working undercover has collected information on the two men, but before she can do anything with it, she's kidnapped and tortured. It's up to the Navy SEALs to rescue her. The daring operation also yields a terrorist cell phone, which leads to yet another discovery: The bad guys are working on secret bomb vests that can't be picked up by metal detectors. What's more, 16 of them are headed to several major U.S. cities. Can the SEALs stop them in time to prevent mass destruction?

Is it any good?

Only pre-existing fans of the SEALs are going to get much out of this underwhelming movie. Co-directors Mike McCoy and Scott Waugh begin ACT OF VALOR with a filmed introduction explaining why they chose to cast real-life Navy SEALs: because actors couldn't convey the proper realism. And to some extent, that idea works. In one terrific rescue scene, viewers see the skill and precision of the SEALs at work, including surprising details that might have been overlooked by a traditional Hollywood production.

Unfortunately, while the SEALs are experts in many things, they're certainly not trained actors. But in their defense, no actor could have made Act of Valor's flat, clunky screenplay sound good. Moreover, while it's part of an effort to be more "realistic," the movie's sloppy hand-held camerawork and choppy editing kill most of the later action sequences. The "walking and talking" dialogue exchanges are even more awkward.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the Act of Valor's violence. Is it justified? How does it compare to what you've seen in other action movies?

  • Was it the right decision to cast real-life Navy SEALs in the movie? Does it make the movie more realistic? How else does it work? In what ways doesn't it work?

  • How does the movie reflect the military? How does that compare to other military depictions you've seen in movies and on TV?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love action

Themes & Topics

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