“ Genre: Action & Adventure / Suitable for 15 years and over / Director: Mike McCoy, Scott Waugh / Actors: Jason Cottle, Nestor Serrano, Gonzalo Menendez, Emilio Rivera, Dimiter Marinov ... / DVD released 2012-07-16 at Momentum Pictures Home Ent / Features of the DVD: PAL „
While movies based on computer games are usually viewed as being trash even before they have been released, this film comes across almost like a video game movie in disguise. So for anyone who wanted to see a film version of "Call of Duty" might have found their prayers answered with this movie as it is essentially just that!
Originally intended as a training / recruitment film it has since evolved into the feature length action thriller we have here, as directors Mike McCoy and Scott Waugh use real active duty Navy SEALs, rather than actors to portray SEAL Team Seven whom the film follows as they work or should I say blast their way through two scenarios, with the first seeing them rescuing a kidnapped CIA operative Morales (Roselyn Sanchez) taken on the orders of the drug smuggler Christo (Alex Veadov) and the second regarding Chechen terrorists lead by the fanatical Abu Shabal (Jason Cottle) trying to smuggle undetectable suicide vests into the United States and who may also share a link with Christo.
Due to the fact that the main roles are all played by Active SEAL's, meaning that none of their names are revealed, it certainly makes it far from the easiest film to review, but it's fair to say that when it comes to dramatic acting it's also a mixed bag which we receive from the SEAL's but then I don't think dramatic acting is part of their training. Needless to say though when it comes to making things go boom or anything regarding normal procedural drills, it's clear what they have been trained to do well.
Plotting wise it's hardly the heaviest thinking film, especially when it's moment of plotting are either relating to their families back home or more procedural talk as they plot out their missions, tossing around enough military slang and jargon to put Tom Clancy (who unsurprisingly has shown his full support for this film) to shame, while conveniently always heading into situations which allow them to showcase as much military hardware as possible.
Meanwhile the film doesn't worry itself with heavy questions, concerning the complexities and morality of war, as the line between good and evil is not so much clear cut but a thick boundary line between the two as the bad guys are hideously evil and without remorse, whether using an ice cream truck to blow up a packed school yard or Christo's head torturer introducing Morales to his unconventional use for a power drill, there is no confusion on who we should root for, especially with the SEAL team being shown as a close knit family, who all have stable family lives back home and live to fight the war against terror, as a slightly pretentious voice over from Chief Petty Officer Dave reading off a letter his has wrote to the son of a fellow SEAL, appear sporadically throughout to drive home this point as he frequently refers to the values of heroism, bravery and the SEAL code of honour. Still thanks to this voice over, it doesn't exactly take a genius to realise that at least one of these boys isn't going to be making it to the end credits.
The dialogue while aiming for rousing remains largely clunky, frequently getting bogged down in jargon, while the lack of acting ability on offer frequently only makes it seem more cliché or knuckle dragging, rather than helping the audience bond with these characters, which ultimately proves detrimental to the film as with no bond to these characters they ultimately become faceless once the action starts and inturn provides no emotional response when the team loses one of their members, even during one scene involving one of them throwing himself on a grenade to save his fellow SEAL's.
Needless to say the action scenes are what save this movie, as the SEAL's demonstrate what they do best, from breathtaking HALO jumps to bullet riddled shootouts and exciting car chases, the film makers certainly making sure they get enough bang for their buck, with the camera quickly switching angles and frequently moving to a first person perspective thanks to helmet mounted camera's and adding that familiar feel of "Call of Duty" to these scenes. It goes without question that the decision to use real SEAL's really pays off during these scenes, as watching the footage it soon becomes clear that actors could not have been trained to pull off these sequences with the realism the film required, which clearly aims to show as much SEAL procedure as possible, especially with Navy training sites being also used to add to the realistic settings.
Ultimately the film would have best been marketed as "Call of Duty: The Movie" but in it's current form, it comes with far to many expectations of being the serious film it isn't and ultimately more of a popcorn action flick which tries to take itself too seriously and while the movie might be a lot of fun while things are either going boom, or while impressive hardware being showcased it is the parts in between and the feeling of being smothered with bravado and military ideology which detracts from the positive parts of the film and despite the changes this film has undergone in it's production, it still remains a recruitment film at it's heart, but one which atleast still gives you more than a few bangs for your buck.