He continued, "Now I'm going to tell you, one of these days, if you keep publishing how you do this, the other guy's going to be there ready for you, and you're going to fly in and he's going to shoot down every damn helicopter and kill every one of your SEALs. Now, watch it happen. Mark my words. Get the hell out of the media."
McRaven countered that "there have always been portrayals of [special operations forces] in the mainstream media," adding that in the age of social networks, crowd sourcing, and 24-hour news cycles, complete operational secrecy is exceedingly difficult and oftentimes counterproductive. While crucial methods and strategies must always remain behind the veil, certain failures, for example, when brought to light, keep special operations forces accountable and bound to a higher standard. "The spotlight on us actually makes us better."
It's impossible to say whether Act of Valor will give enemies of the state ideas on how better to counter SEAL assaults. It's pretty clear, though, that Act of Valor will give enemies of the state serious reservations about their chosen professions. The film has a straightforward plot involving arms dealers, drug cartels, and Islamic terrorists. But it's the same kind of plot that might be found in a Jackie Chan film. It exists only to connect the set pieces. And here is where the beauty of the film can be found.
The same delights of a night at the symphony or competitive figure skating so apply to the SEALs on screen. It is the beauty of technical precision. Of perfect form. Of every movement, clean and with purpose and character. The SEALs are like a team of gold medalists in the Olympic sport of warfare. They have an easiness and alertness that simply can't be faked or fixed with CGI. Films don't often achieve this effect. War movies, in particular, are generally a disaster by-the-numbers. "Not bad" is rendered "good enough" with creative editing, but though an actor might wear a uniform and carry a rifle, it's always just a costume and a prop.
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Not so, here. No doubt there were many takes for every scene, and every manipulative camera trick in the book. But the thing impossible to forget, the thing that sticks in the brain throughout the film, and after, is that everything these men do on screen, they do for real. Presented are not invincible men of steel manufactured by the military-industrial complex, but real men who perform remarkable feats for a living. It has, in short, an unimpeachable authenticity. Lethal warriors land perfect head shots, but they also take stray bullets and fall dead. The violence is brutal in its clinical application, and never does any of it seem trivial or fun.