Act of Valor Movie Poster Image

Act of Valor



Real-life SEALs can't save poorly made, violent movie.
  • Review Date: February 24, 2012
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Action/Adventure
  • Release Year: 2012
  • Running Time: 101 minutes

What parents need to know

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

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.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

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

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.

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.

Families can talk 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

Theatrical release date:February 24, 2012
DVD release date:June 5, 2012
Cast:Alex Veadov, Nestor Serrano, Roselyn Sanchez
Directors:Mike McCoy, Scott Waugh
Studio:Relativity Media
Run time:101 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:strong violence including some torture, and for language

This review of Act of Valor was written by

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Parent 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 models. Bizarre.
What other families should know
Great role models
Parent 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 for the reasons I’ll list. Well, this caused a huge fight with my wife because a 12 yr old was going to an R movie. She did not want him seeing the violence or hearing the language—12 is too young! First let me address the language and the violence that I knew would be present with Navy SEALS. Our kids are in the world, but not of the world. I can’t help but think that the 12 yr old Jesus heard some things and saw some things that His mother probably didn’t want him to see when he wandered off to instruct the Jewish leaders, or David when he was hanging out with his brother’s killing lions, bears, and eventually Goliath, or the teenagers of the American Revolution fighting with their Dad’s for their freedom. I did tell him I don’t expect to hear those words coming out of his mouth. If we don’t lead our sons, then yes all they will do is watch Sponge Bob and play Modern Warfare 3 on Xbox. Our sons do not become men at 18 when the State says so; they start at 12-13 when their fathers lead by example. I think if our sons wait until they are 17 to see this film, it is too late. They need to see it now if they are in the 12-13 range to be that man when they are 18. What did I talk about with my son before/after the movie and what did he see modeled on the screen? Duty - always do the right thing, even if you don’t feel like it. Discipline – forming right habits everyday lead to a very effective life (and SEAL missions) Honor – seek honor not for yourself, but for God & Country Freedom – is not free. Are we Americans still willing to fight and die for our freedom? Family – Always take care of your families so the govt does not have to. US Constitution – is under attack and still worthy of our defense Liberty vs. Tyranny & Marxism – A 12 yr old can understand only so much of this but you’d be surprised how much they understand if you ask them questions. Sacrifice – It’s unnatural to give your life for someone else, but that is exactly what Jesus asks us to do. Scripture – Do we think our founding fathers just made up the constitution and liberty? No way, they are absolutely founded by Godly people who had scripture coursing through their veins. Protection & Respect for Women – As young men start noticing the opposite sex and vice versa, they need to treat the woman in their life with love & respect and not treat them as toys. Notice how the SEAL covered the woman to protect her modesty. Current threats against our country from without and within – and how he may be called on one day to fight for our freedom. I can’t help but think of Paul when he said, “When I was a child, I talked like a child, thought like a child, reasoned like a child, but when I became a man, I put away the childish things.” Going from a child to a man, is not like flipping on a light switch or crossing a calendar date. It is a process that begins at 12-13. Ever wonder why the Jewish people have a bar mitzvah at 12-13? Or why Jesus went to the temple at 12? Jesus Christ – there is no greater Demonstrator of acts of valor than our Lord. My hope is that our sons are being conformed to His image. The good, by far, outweighed the language and violence which is why we went. And as soon as it’s out on DVD, I’ll have this in my home library and Amazon cloud.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much swearing
Teen, 14 years old Written byjdawg55 April 2, 2012

Great Movie With Some Blood And Language.

First of all, I would like to point out, Commonsensemedia never has anything good to say about movies. I mean seriously, "Real-life Seals can't save poorly made, violent movie," with only 2 stars? I think that this is a great movie for people of most ages. If you are 13+ and have seen movies like The Dark Knight or Battle: Los Angeles, and can handle a bit of language, you should be fine with this movie. It does have around a dozen uses of f--k, and occasional uses of s--t and milder profanity like d--n a-- and h--l, but nothing more than most people have heard at school. Now, don't get me wrong, if you are a person that keeps your keeps your kids from these things, I understand that you want to protect your kids, and I respect that, but sooner or later you have to show your kids the real world. This movie shows you what happens in battle, and helps you realize what people do for our country. It has some blood, like many headshots where blood spurts, and one scene that shows a man jump onto a grenade to protect the rest of them, but it mostly just shows him fly into the air than land back down with blood pooling around him. there is one scene where a man gets shot many times, but still fires back, when another man comes in and mows down the enemy, showing many bullet holes in them. I strongly recommend this movie to teens, and mature tweens, for them to learn about the Navy Seals, so they can respect them, and realize how they help us. Overall this is a great movie, not a "Hard R," but still, blood spurts, and they do use language. Hope this review helped!
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much swearing


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