Act of Valor appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. This was a consistently strong presentation.
Sharpness seemed solid. A few interiors looked a wee bit soft at times, but those instances were infrequent. The majority of the flick appeared accurate and concise. I noticed no issues with shimmering or jagged edges, and edge haloes remained absent. No print flaws came along with this digitally-shot film.
In terms of colors, the movie went with a stylized palette. Tones varied dependent on setting, so we got a mix of chilly blues, camouflage greens, warm yellows and other tints. These came across well, as the Blu-ray represented them as intended. Blacks looked dark and dense, and shadows were usually fine; a few low-light shots could be a smidgen opaque, but that was another minor complaint. Overall, the movie looked great.
I felt even more impressed with the film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack. As expected from an action movie like this, the soundscape provided a nearly constant assault on the ears. This was most obvious during the battle sequences, of course, as those used all five speakers to form an engrossing sense of place. Bullets zipped around the room, various vehicles moved cleanly and blasts exploded into our faces. Quieter scenes delivered a nice sense of ambience, but the louder sequences brought the best punch and created a sensational soundscape.
In addition, the mix boasted solid audio quality. Music was rich and full, with crisp highs and taut lows. Effects followed suit, as the various military elements delivered strong and accurate reproduction, with some bold bass response. Speech was also concise and crisp throughout the film. This turned into a spectacular soundtrack.
The Blu-ray comes with a pretty broad set of extras. A Directors’ Intro from Scott Waugh and Mike “Mouse” McCoy runs three minutes, 12 seconds. They chat about their decision to use real SEALs as well as some aspects of the shoot. They give us a few decent insights about the production; it feels a bit like a teaser for the other supplements, but it’s meatier than most of these intros.
An audio commentary from directors McCoy and Waugh offers a running, screen-specific piece. They discuss working with the SEALs and real-life inspirations/influences, sets and locations, shooting digitally, action and stunts, cast and performances, the use of military tactics and attempts at realism, and a few other production areas.
The co-directors bring a lot of energy to their commentary and cover a nice variety of subjects. They address virtually all of the appropriate topics and do so with gusto. The commentary turns into an informative and engaging view of the film.
Six Deleted Scenes last a total of nine minutes, 23 seconds. We find “Christmas in the Barracks” (2:12), “Shabal in Winter Palace” (3:09), “Christo’s House” (0:44), “MREs” (1:19), “Shabal in Kiro” (1:09) and “Shabal on Boat” (0:50). “Palace” probably works best of the bunch, as it fleshes out the villains a little better. The rest offer minor character exposition and range from okay to clunky.
Under Interviews with Active Navy SEALs, we find seven segments with a total running time of 30 minutes, 27 seconds. We hear from “Rorke” (4:17), “Dave” (5:33), “Mikey” (2:28), “Ray” (4:26), “Sonny” (2:31), “Ajay” (4:59) and “Weimy” (6:07). (Note that the film and the extras only credit the SEALs under their first names or nicknames.) Across these, the SEALs discuss what brought them to the Navy, aspects of their military service, and related subjects.
Don’t expect a lot of really revealing comments here, as most of the statements follow the expected lines of duty and responsibility. That’s fine, and we do get some interesting thoughts about how the SEALs ended up where they went. Ajay proves to be the most compelling of the bunch, as he seems a bit more expressive than the others. We do get the occasional particularly intriguing nugget, such as when Rorke reveals that he’s occasionally jealous of soldiers who die in combat, as he views that as the ultimate way to go.
Four featurettes follow. The Making Of Act of Valor goes for five minutes, 26 seconds and offers notes from Waugh, McCoy, Rorke, post-production producer Jacob Rosenberg, executive producer Max Leitman, director of photography Shane Hurlbut. The show looks at the film’s story, the use of real SEALs, and shooting the action. Fluffy and glossy, this piece exists to promote the movie; we get a few decent shots from the set but not much of real interest here.
With Real Bullets, we get a two-minute, 13-second featurette with McCoy, Waugh, and Hurlbut. In this, we’re told that the movie often used real ammo instead of CG or blanks. Okay – that info is worth a 10-second discussion in the commentary. Again, other than a smattering of bits from the shoot, there’s not much meat here.
Real SEALs fills two minutes, 32 seconds and delivers comments from Waugh, McCoy, Ajay, Mikey, Rosenberg, and Weimy. As the title implies, this one reinforces that the film features actual soldiers. Yeah, we know that – like the last two featurettes, this one tries to sell the movie and adds little to no real information.
Finally, Silent Warriors occupies two minutes, 50 seconds and features Ajay, Ray, Rorke, and Navy SEAL Captain Duncan Smith. Yes, it’s more promotional fluff – skip it.
We find a Music Video for Keith Urban’s “For You”. Like many, the video mixes movie shots and lip-synch footage, though it blends the two better than usual. The video sets the band shots in the desert and occasionally boasts explosions in the background, so these elements mesh with the film material pretty well. It’s not a great video, but it’s more effective than most in its genre.
We can also check out a Making of the Music Video featurette. It runs three minutes, 58 seconds and includes notes from Waugh, Rosenberg, Hurlbut and singer Keith Urban. We get a few minor notes about the video shoot, but don’t expect a whole lot, as it’s yet another insubstantial promo piece.
The disc opens with ads for Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and Get the Gringo. These also appear under Sneak Peek along with clips for This Means War, Bad Ass, and Homeland Season One. The trailer for Valor also pops up here.
A second disc provides a DVD Copy and a Digital Copy of Valor. This gives you a movie-only version of the film, so don’t expect any extras.
With a cast full of actual Navy SEALs, Act of Valor boasts a verisimilitude not found in most military films. However, it lacks a particularly interesting story and only succeeds when it digs into its action scenes; those can be very good, but the narrative and acting are subpar. The Blu-ray offers excellent picture and audio as well as a set of supplements headlined by an informative audio commentary. I think the movie’s inconsistent but feel pleased with the quality of the Blu-ray itself.