"Incredibly patriotic, feeling almost like a recruitment advertisement for the Army..."

Now I'm certainly not one for bold, brash statements ending with "...of the year", but I can safely say that Act of Valor is definitely the most American film you will see this year.

Featuring real-life Navy SEALs, directors Mike McCoy and Scott Waugh's feature-length debut presents an insight into the everyday life of those serving their nation, as an elite team of soldiers embark on a covert operation to rescue CIA agent Lisa Morales (Roselyn Sanchez) from the hands of terrorists.

The SEALs, including close friends and compatriots Lieutenant Rorke and Chief Dave, must leave behind their families to fight for their nation, as they soon discover that Morales was working on a case under cover to expose Islamic extremist Abu Shabal (Jason Cottle), who is planning a series of suicide bombing attacks on the USA, potentially killing thousands.

Act of Valor is incredibly patriotic, feeling almost like a recruitment advertisement for the Army. Everything has been overtly Hollywoodised, making for an excruciatingly overstated and sentimental conclusion, whereby the production loses some of its integrity, as you expect the Team America soundtrack to kick in. The film up until that point, and most significantly the battle sequences, is enticing, as this bold and unique piece of filmmaking, blending real-life gallantry with a fictitious storyline works quite well.

Of course the unique selling point is the fact that the leading performers are active duty Navy SEALs, adding an incredible degree of authenticity to proceedings. The acting, as a result, is certainly suspect and questionable, but that is to be expected considering the protagonists’ lack of experience in this field. Although just because they aren't actors as such shouldn't be an excuse. McCoy and Waugh chose to shoot this film in this way, and must face the criticisms that come with it.

Not all of the actors are real people of course - if the antagonists had been real terrorists that would have made for an awfully awkward first day on set. And despite finding what the soldiers do valiant, and appreciating that they are all heroes, you've got to ask yourself; do real heroes take six months off work to shoot a movie? Maybe it would have been easier to have simply made a documentary.

The sentimental scenes between soldiers are cringe-worthy but where their past experiences prove dividend are within the action sequences, adding such realism to scenes often deemed too cinematic and choreographed. The realism induced into the war zone creates more suspense, as you truly feel that these are real scenarios, with real people in them. Although on the other hand, considering the film is attempting pragmatism, everything does appear to go a little too smoothly for the Americans, reminding the audience continuously that we are in fact watching a film.

Despite the realism to the feature, Act of Valor does struggle to shake off its video game tag, feeling so much like a cut-scene from a computer game such as Call of Duty, from the dialogue to the over-exaggerated deaths. At points the camera even takes a first person angle, shooting as if from a soldier’s point of view, enhancing the notion that this film could effectively be played as easily as it is watched.

It's an enjoyable film though, and despite being somewhat ridiculous in parts, it's an unprecedented form of filmmaking and for it to pulled off, everyone involved must be credited for their efforts. And if I have learnt one thing from this feature, it's that the Navy isn't all about wearing silly hats and singing songs in unison on large boats. Unfortunately.