This last weekend, Vicky and I ventured into our local movie theater for a viewing of the movie, Act of Valor. I must admit, I was anticipating and actually looking forward to seeing the film. I had heard about it through a number of sources…I had even heard some “disturbing” news of some faith communities across the country advertising it as some sort of “object lesson” for “real men”…that irritated me a bit but didn’t deter me…
Here are a few “feelings” I had when watching the film – first, overwhelmed. The reality of the film (made even more real because of the fact that real Seals NOT actors) was brutal. As I was sharing with my friends and Vicky after the film, many times you view a war film and the “sub-plots” or other aspects of the story seem to deflect you from having to deal with the reality of war. That’s been my experience in watching many such films of that genre over the years. Not so with Act of Valor. The brutality, harshness and horror of war, battles and combat are vividly communicated throughout each scene. Now, I’m a tender hearted, artist type of person…I have a hard time compartmentalizing issues like that…as I shared that night, I get devastated emotionally walking into a children’s hospital and seeing suffering. So, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that the realities of this film hit me. It is NOT for the faint of heart.
Secondly, enlightenment – these are the battles we face in the 21st century…and to say anything else is either being purposely “head in the sand-ish” or naïve. Friends, the truth is – Evil is real. There are worldviews out there that say that evil is an illusion or simply a law or friendly conversation away from being obliterated. There are worldviews that look at the human spirit and see pure goodness…I don’t buy those worldviews and it is NOT just because I am a person of faith but also because I can see with my own eyes and contest because of my own experience the reality of evil. We are facing evil in the world…how to deal with the evil is the HUGE question and conundrum for a person who follows a King and live according to the values of a Kingdom (that is NOT of this world). I struggle with this stuff…I really do. All sorts of “just war” theory and other frameworks that attempt to justify ANY conflict are a bit shortsighted at times…even so, there are realities that MUST be dealt with aggressively. Look it up – Jesus didn’t deal with evil and suffering passively…and yes, I know that there are those out there who are pacifists…believe me when I say, “I would love to be a pacifist” but I can’t be in light of the reality of evil. So, the movie shows the evil we face…it shows how people are bought and sold, their consciences fine-tuned by hatred and a passion to hurt and kill. To sit back and deny that exists and think “happy thoughts” and put bumper stickers on your car that promise peaceful coexistence is foolish in light of reality. Jesus said we live in a world with sheep AND wolves…we have to be prepared for both.
Lastly (at least for now), thankfulness for the sacrifice of people. I was watching that film and I felt thankfulness in my heart for the untold and uncounted sacrifice of all those who die for what I experience in my life. Other war movies tell the same story (unless, of course, their story is told from a peacenik naïveté)…I remember seeing the movie “Memphis Belle” and watching as that film documented a story where literally over 40000 airmen died in the European theater alone…WW1 and the movie “War Horse” showed us that over 9 million allied troops died in that conflict. Friends, it is not Memorial Day but I tell you, we don’t need a holiday to step back and be thankful for these sacrifices. I know I recommitted myself to thankfulness for those who fight evil daily.
So, that’s my quick take…I’m still very affected by the film…I don’t know if I would want to watch it again. I do know that ANY ministry that suggested that this film is contains some prototypical male machismo character traits that are meant to be emulated is seriously misguided. It is a movie to see but not for the faint of heart…and not without some serious reflection on what conditions our world and people are facing in these times and the bravery, courage and sacrifice that staring down the face of evil is required of those who choose to take that on!