Socialist realism is making a comeback in some strange places — Hollywood and the Pentagon are good examples. Like the Soviet propaganda flicks of yore, the good guys are ten feet tall, and the bad guys are ambiguous nitwits. The action film Act of Valor purports to show “active-duty SEALs,” an elite cadre specially trained for covert warfare, in operations “based on true events.” For openers, it’s hard to quibble about the hype for feature-length propaganda, but it’s also difficult to reconcile “true” anything and a Hollywood film crew.

And the nonsense about secrecy is just that. Special Forces, and what they do, haven’t been secrets since the Kennedy administration. If special operations are clandestine, you might ask, why is the Department of Defense in bed with Tinsel Town again? If the covert Navy is on a heading from cloak and dagger to Hollywood Boulevard, recruiting numbers should hit bottom in no time. True warriors make poor actors, and the best actors often make implausible warriors.

Beyond advertising misnomers, this film fails as a recruiting incentive and as art. Indeed, nearly two thirds of the early professional reviews are negative. And let’s not be too quick to write off the media for their usual liberal bias. This ham-handed attempt to glamorize the Special Forces deserves all the bad press it gets. The whole project looks like a poorly made, and politically fishy, video game.

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