[Screen shot of Act of Valor.]

Some people shouldn’t be allowed to write.

I know that goes against our Amendment on the freedom of speech; and if it were just about that, I get it.

But some people write such utterly base commentaries it degrades the entire human species.

I’m not even sure who reads the New York Times anymore, but their review of the movie Act of Valor boiled down to them not liking it because they had no real actors as Navy SEALS.

Correct me if I’m wrong here, but isn’t that the point of the film when they promoted the trailer with “Filmed with active duty Navy SEALS”? To a generation that craves the authentic and the genuine, isn’t that a selling point? Tragic that the reviewer missed the point.

Granted, watching some of the SEALS carry on dialog was a bit like watching some of the acting from a Sherwood Pictures movie, but it didn’t diminish the film. Put them in an action sequence and no actor could do it better! And the whole thing was well balanced with the remarkable performances of sinister bad guys Jason Cottle and Alex Veadov.

My father and I had a movie date yesterday, something we did all through my childhood. I love movies today because my dad loved movies back then. And when my good friend Mike Kim said it was one of the best movies he’d seen, I knew it was going to be brilliant.

And it was.

Daddy and I walked out of the theatre astonished, grateful and humble. And I couldn’t help but think about our own flag raising incident two years ago at the US National Cemetery in Normandy, and how seeing this film made that privilege all the more overwhelming.

It’s not for young viewers, nor those that have a hard time with intense battle sequences or f-bombs. But it is for patriots. For those who still believe we live in an incredible country. For those who want reminding about just how valiant all the members within our service branches are.

Magnificent heros. And as they say in the film, damn few.

My grandfather would have loved this movie were he alive. My dad agreed.

Here’s to all the men and women that give their lives everyday in service to our nation, and to my family. I admire and honor you all.

And here’s to the nearsighted self-proclaimed pundits who still don’t get why they used real US Navy SEALS. May God grant you protection for when you’re asking where the actors are if real bullets ever start flying. ch:


Jarvis Delta · 28 Feb ’12 at 8:28 am

Sir, I am very glad to see that you recognized this film for what it was. Thank you for being a voice of reason in the messed up place we call the “Internet”.

“To all those going downrange…damn few”.

    Christopher Hopper · 28 Feb ’12 at 8:54 am

    Jarvis: thanks for the comment.

    In all honesty, I can’t imagine how people could not get this movie for what it was. You have to be incredibly biased and desensitized to miss it. I pity them.

Nathan R. · 28 Feb ’12 at 9:17 am

I heard a similar review on NPR and thought the same thing, and I still can’t wait to see it.

    Christopher Hopper · 28 Feb ’12 at 9:24 am

    Doesn’t surprise me (even thought sometimes NPR has great stuff to say). Let me know what you think!

    Jarvis Delta · 28 Feb ’12 at 9:26 am

    Recommended whole-heartedly!

Colleen Ann Guest · 28 Feb ’12 at 9:37 am

Thank you for a concise report on why you liked this film. I don’t get to the (movie) theater that often these days but this is one of the films has piqued my interest to the point of loosening my wallet and braving the sometimes obnoxious crowds. I think I can get past the “acting” in order to see the message. God bless our American heroes!!

    Christopher Hopper · 28 Feb ’12 at 9:53 am

    You’re most welcome. And thank you for reading.

    It’s definitely worth seeing, and the sub-par acting is really easily gotten past, especially when you’re thinking, “Dang, this guys is ACTUALLY who he’s portraying!” (Yes, they were cast by their real names with real accolades – yet another cool point I forgot to mention).

    My trick to avoiding the crowds (which I can’t stand) is hitting a matinee. Granted, I can make my own work schedule, so not everyone can do that. But Monday at 12:10pm, there were four other people in the theatre. Score.

Stephen Byers · 28 Feb ’12 at 10:14 am

The New York Times has had a love hate relationship with the military since 9/11. We had a husband and wife team embedded with my unit during a mission on my last deployment in 07. We had to be very careful what we did when they were around as they had a reputation of writing less then flattering articles. On this day we lost two men with three more wounded. The NYTimes journalists were so shook up we had to fly a Blackhawk in to pick them up. You can read about it at and see the pictures at http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/23/world/middleeast/23search.
As far as Act of Valor I thought it was a powerful movie. I had the privilege on three occassions to work with SEALS on, “snatch and grab” missions. They are some of the highlights of my deployments. As I sat in the theater wacthing the movie I was struck with how accurate everything was and the detail put into the making of the movie. During one of the scenes where the SEALS were going through a village at night my heart started racing because it was so real. Looking through the night vision goggles and the only thing you can hear is your own heavy breathing…brought back a lot of memories. It was as accurate a depiction of combat as Hollywood could produce and it was because they used the real thing. I would rather see the real action then hear word perfect dialogue from some actor that trained with the SEALS for three weeks so they could pretend.
Another great read bro!! Thank God we have writers out there like you that can balance out the goons from the NYTimes…

    Christopher Hopper · 28 Feb ’12 at 10:30 am

    Wow, Stephen.

    First off, words can’t express my gratitude to you and your family for your service and your sacrifice.

    Secondly, to get this kind of comment confirms what I feel strongly in my heart – yet just as you’ve credited to me, you say it in a way I simply can’t.

    I know my readers will appreciate this. And thanks for the link; nice to see they came around when the real bullets started to fly.

    Love you.

Billy Jepma · 28 Feb ’12 at 10:48 am

I wholeheartedly agree Christoper. And although I haven’t seen the movie yet, the reviews I’ve read seemed, odd to say the least. I want to see it because of the fact that real U.S. Navy SEALS star in it. I think that’s awesome. Even the commercial made me filled me with a sense of pride for my country and the men and women that protect it. And if you liked it, I know its good. Thank you for the post, 🙂

Kimberlee Long · 28 Feb ’12 at 10:59 am

I have not seen the movie yet, but your description of it really wets my taste! I had no idea they used real military members. I usually avoid war movies (with my husband about to leave for Afghanistan this summer, all things war/military genra get avoided, I’m afraid lol) but I am all for honoring the men and women who probably had to step out of their comfort zone (if the apparent discomfort of their dialogue on camera is any indication) to bring awareness to the greater public in suvh an enormous way. This being the case, I think Johnnathan and I will go see this movie before it leaves theatres. I think we owe these guys that much -they do so much for us, we should let them tell their story. Thanks for speaking up about this despite (or maybe because of) the petty bias of the reviewers. <3 God bless you and your family.

    Christopher Hopper · 28 Feb ’12 at 11:10 am

    You’re most welcome, Kimberlee. But what’s more, thank you for all that you and your husband have sacrificed for our country. If this movie served as nothing more than a reminder of the lives that have bought our freedom, then it is well worth it. I can’t even begin to imagine the quality of individual it takes – both as a husband and a wife – to endure the experiences of deployment. I honor you.

Mike Kim · 28 Feb ’12 at 11:06 am

Great post, bro. So thankful and in awe of our military. I just read the NY Times review. Plain and simple: what an idiot.

Loved your last remarks: “And here’s to the nearsighted self-proclaimed pundits who still don’t get why they used real US Navy SEALS. May God grant you protection for when you’re asking where the actors are if real bullets ever start flying.”

    Christopher Hopper · 28 Feb ’12 at 11:11 am

    Gotta’ love your directness.

    Thanks for the tip-off friend. I owe you one.

Ted Hamilton · 28 Feb ’12 at 11:39 am

My brother deploys in half a month as a Chaplain’s Assistant to Afghanistan for a 12 mo. tour with the 84th EOD. He, and all the servicemen represented in this movie portrayal, help make this world a safer place. There is no complete safety on this side of life, but they buy us time and freedom to make better choices. God bless and protect those who serve…and may be find the courage, conviction, and strength of character to serve just as dutifully in our realms of influence.

    Christopher Hopper · 28 Feb ’12 at 11:42 am

    Beautifully spoken, Ted. Many thanks to your brother – I can only imagine the man he’s become.

    “They buy us time and freedom to make better choices.”

Jenny · 28 Feb ’12 at 11:45 am

Great post! Looking forward to seeing it. So grateful to our military for the peace so many take for granted.

Josh Jansen · 28 Feb ’12 at 11:51 am

Ok…I understand the whole, these are actual NAVY Seals and we are patriotic. I understand that part of it. I would be on the top of the list of people who love the military for what they do.

The movie was produced by Relativity Media, not the United States NAVY. This is the same company that brought you Balls of Fury, Baby Mama, 300, Bruno, Brothers, and Battle: LA (among others). They care less about getting the American population all jazzed up about the military and more about finding an angle that will make them the most money.

Coming off of a year were NAVY Seals famously infiltrated a compound and killed the most notorious man on the planet, it makes great marketing sense to use active NAVY Seals rather than actors.

There are great documentaries out there that have actual war footage, with actual soldiers, and none of the Hollywood hype or cinematography (Restrepo, World War 2 in HD to name two). These documentaries are absolutely amazing (and real).

So, I will disagree with you. I feel like if you are going to make a movie, make a movie. Develop characters, develop a story (Saving Private Ryan, Band of Brothers). Don’t sit me down for 2 hours (take $10.50) to show me the cut scenes of a video game.

    Christopher Hopper · 28 Feb ’12 at 12:10 pm

    Preface appreciated, as is the comment.

    To use your argument, if they are just out to [insert cause] (make money), they made a movie as you said, and made a butt-load of money – and still managed to keep it relatively real. I’ll pay $10.50 for it again whether a video game or to see Navy SEALS try and act. 😉 And for the reminders of sacrifice and love.

james mergenthaler · 28 Feb ’12 at 2:22 pm

As a former member of the US Army, I love this position taken by Christopher Hopper and the other active duty members of our armed forces. The liberal anti military media is just so tiring… I am psyched to see the movie, I will take all 3 of my sons, so we can share in the experience. This on the heals of taking them to see Courageous, another movie of courage and heroism.


    Christopher Hopper · 28 Feb ’12 at 2:44 pm

    Thanks James. I know you’re going to love it, and please let me know what you think.

    I’m slightly jealous too: very soon my 3 boys will be “of age” for this kind of flick, just not yet.

shane marolf · 29 Feb ’12 at 8:10 pm

As a huge fan of movies I loved it. I found a couple action scenes that wowed me. I found it refreshing that they used real Seals. It had that regular guy feel to it. Banter that might happen in real life. How can you not connect with the genuine article? It was a good flick.

    Christopher Hopper · 29 Feb ’12 at 11:23 pm

    Thanks for the feedback. Great stuff Shane.

    And I love (and share) your love of film too.

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