Just saw an outstanding movie, Act Of Valor, starring real Navy SEALS. Trying to list them all and the characters they played will just not work. You have never heard of them, they are active duty SEALS. They were serving as consultants on the movie, and complained about how inaccurate the movie was going, so the producer and director put them in the movie. It was a wise move.
So here we go. A couple of SEALS were shown at the start of the movie, along with family, and we heard a voice over telling us that every person works with their own moral code. They also work with a desire to be with family, honor their country, and do what is expected of them. These guys are tough. At the same time we see some early shots of the bad guys, one is a Russian who is selling arms and drugs to anyone who wants them, another is a terrorist from the Middle East, we watch him blow up a school yard full of innocent kids to get to a politician. The Russian has been shadowed by a CIA operative who is a nurse, working in his kid’s school. She has put together a possible link between the Russian and the terrorist, we are not sure why. She makes a connection with another CIA guy, he is killed and she is captured by the bad guys.
So the SEALS are sent in to rescue her. They fly in, jump out in a HALO jump (High Altitude, Low Opening), where they leave the plane at over 30,000 feet, open the chutes really close to the ground. They end up with some Swift Boats taking them into a jungle where the girl is being held and tortured. Several incredible moments, where a sniper with a silenced rifle is on point, and the bad guys don’t have a chance. The SEALS sneak into the camp, we see the guards taken out one by one, all head shots. They catch the bad guys as they fall, so no noise at all! They even have a nifty little plane circling overhead, lots of cameras that tell them what is going on all over the compound. They find the woman, rescue her just a group of replacement bud guys comes into to stop the rescue. The SEALS pile into a old pick-up truck, head off to the river. They are SEALS, when they hit the river, they drive right in, bust out the windshield, dive into the water. The bad guys have three pickups full of fellows with m-16s, they begin to boil out, fill the air with lead. Turns out the Swift Boats have a nifty set of weapons, Gatling Guns. My friend Steve Howard says these things fire 600 rounds a minute. The sound is incredible, sort of like scotch tape being ripped off a reel. Zeeeeet. The target just sort of disappears. The bad guys decide to head for the jungle, it is not a fair fight.
So they get the girl back alive, turns out she had info the connected the Russian and the terrorist to a plot to attack America, kill a bunch of innocent people. Something involving vests with 500 ceramic balls packed around high explosives, can’t see it on metal detectors. The SEAL Team leader finds out where the Russian is hiding out, on a yacht in the ocean. Just a comment, this is a global movie, filmed on all kinds of territory. At times the real SEALS had to leave to do a mission, and the movie stopped. Not much warning, this was real time action. Back to our story. The Russian admits to being involved in the terrorist plan, tells the SEALS too late, cannot be stopped now.
They go after them anyway, figure out they are coming through Mexico, so the jump again, land in those nifty inflatable boats, head to shore. Get some help from the Mexican Police, track the terrorist group to a bunch of tunnels where they are heading into US soil. Got to stop them before they get loose inside the tunnels. Problem is the tunnels are guarded by about 100 drug lord thugs, who have nothing to lose, and will fight to the death to stop them. As Russell Crowe said, they are about to “Unleash Hell”. And they do.
Won’t go any further, but this is a war movie. Just like other war movies (Saving Private Ryan, The Hurt Locker, Full Metal Jacket) it deals with pain and death. While the good guys usually win, it is not without cost. But trust this: if you are a terrorist, beware! We are better armed, better informed, smarter, got more tools, and can move amazingly fast, you will not win. While you may affect some damage, you will not prevail. This is not a feel-good movie in the normal sense, where you walk out saying, wow, I really enjoyed the experience. Instead, it is the kind of movie that you walk out quietly, and say to yourself, I am really glad these guys are on our side. When you see the SEALS walk into a river, and just walk under the water, rifles at ready, hats on their heads, you marvel at their self-control.
It is amazing to watch the SEALS fire off one or two rounds, and a bad guy falls. Almost always a head shot. The drug lord fellows have Uzis, they fire off hundreds of rounds, rarely hit the target. It is an emotional movie, I saw it with guys from my neighborhood, one of whom had a son in the SEALS. He said the training is amazing, many leave before the 25 week program is over. These are the guys who rescued the Captain Richard Phillips, who was being held by Somalia pirates April 13, 2009. Three Navy SEAL snipers were on the back deck of the freighter, and shot three pirates who were holding guns on the freighter captain in a lifeboat being towed several hundred feet behind them, both on high seas. Eye witnesses said when the all clear was given, it sounded like one shot was fired.
The most famous SEAL action in the last few months was when Team 6 took out Osama Bin Laden. It also happened fast and was coordinated extremely well. Just be thankful these are our boys. And that brings me to the end of this message. Thank you to all who serve, in any military branch, as well as Firemen and Policemen. Thanks for your service, we salute you.