"In valor, there is hope."
(24 Feb 2012) Directors Mike McCoy, Scott Waugh
Writer Kurt Johnstad
Before I saw the movie, I saw—here and there on the web—people criticizing the acting of the SEALs, but think about it, if
they were slick or perfect, it would have seemed false. The fact
that they came across as regular guys (well, you know what I
mean: super-skilled bad-ass regular guys) drove home the fact that they
are real (active duty!) SEALs. The whole time I kept thinking
they really did these things, and that was the key to why it worked!
That and all the amazing kick-ass Action—It delivered
in that department, plus it also worked as a movie.
THOSE LIKE US"
I thought it was very well
written. I really liked the intro: "You live your life by a code
. . .
It's your shoreline; it's what guides you home . . .."
Structurally, some time was spent showing us
their personal lives and the bond they have, and then they introduced
their leader. That was all necessary to make us care about them and
to understand their sacrifice. Their putting their lives on the line
became real. Imagine if you went to work each day and didn't know
whether you'd come home again. The Writer / Directors /
Editors knew just what to
keep and what to leave out. Not once did I think they could have
left something out, if anything, they fast forwarded at times to increase the
excitement, taking us along for the ride, and it was exhilarating!
The plot of the movie
was easy to follow. They tied a succession of operations
together in a all-too-believable story line. From saving one
hostage, it grew into a mission whose success would save the
lives of thousands.
The first words on screen were "This
film is based on real acts of valor"
and it surely is a study in Courage. Right away, we
'jump in' with the military lingo. They didn't explain it, they just
used it. You figured it out.
According to Wikipedia, SEALs
(stands for Sea,
Air, and Land Teams) undergo 30 months of training before their
first deployment, and the BUD classes (Basic Underwater Demolition)
have a 90% drop-out rate! The first thing they show the SEALs do is
a training jump from a plane so high, they need breathing masks. Later, on
jump it's at night and pitch black, yet they land with accuracy and proceed like
they just got dropped on the corner by a bus (only quieter).
I know we've seen actors jump out of planes before (or stunt
doubles), but knowing these are real men who have done everything
you see really drove home the risk factor. The audience was so tense at
times, it felt like we were collectively holding our breath.
Seeing how they're dressed, the camouflage, the weaponry, the
various roles they play, and the equipment and vehicles they used was
impressive! Beginning with these flat black (guessing on the model
These Chinooks can carry
a 30-foot boat, fully
loaded! We take so much for granted in movie making, especially with
CGI. To see this real equipment with fresh eyes and marvel at
the practical application was great. The tandem rotors each
have a 60-foot span! The helicopters are almost 100 feet long and can travel
nearly 200 mph. Is that a refueling stick up front? The whole thing
looks seriously scary!2
On the first operation to extract the hostage,
two Chinooks bring back-up troops who repel down into
boats and then the choppers gently lower the boats onto the water.
The hoists are dropped and off they go.
These boats, SOC-Rs (Special
Operations Craft-Riverine), are a no-bullshit shell of firepower.3
I marveled at how they must have to plan the timing on these
operations really well
because after they get dropped, they are hell-bent to a
rendezvous point. It was also clear they make a Plan B, and a
Plan C, etc. This movie really drove home the word
HOT in "hot extraction" when things go
south and they have to get the hell out.
THE GNARLY KILL
Even though they showed most of this kill on the trailer, I didn't
realize until I saw the whole thing in context how fucking bad ass
it was. You know the one I mean, the first kill in the "personnel
extraction" when the sniper takes out the enemy sentry
on the dock who then falls back into the water but one of the SEALs is
the water, hands above the surface to stop his fall so he doesn't
make a splash . . . then the SEAL just slowly lowers the dead body into the river. Aaaah, badassery; it's what we live for!
The Sniper is a key player in everything they do. The
enemy is marked for death before the assault begins and you're
just waiting for the when. The how is already
determined. It was very impressive how accurate the shooting
was (by everybody) and it only got more and more impressive.
They all stand and shoot, or walk and shoot, with accuracy, and without
much ducking or flinching. They shoot and just keep coming.
It's the way you have to be in a video game. If you waste time with
fear something gets you faster than if you're balls-out
accurate. There's a sick number of single kill shots to the
head, especially on the island raid off the coast of Mexico. It's
worth seeing the movie again just to count them [ ____ so gonna do
Action Movie Freaks have been waiting for this movie since
It's all there:
• The lingo "We have you Lima Charlie", "4.7
clicks at 3-5-5",
"15 Mike", "Enemy QRF at 8 clicks" (Quick
Reaction Force), translation: get the hell out!
• The hand signals (masks on) (wrist karate chop)
(two-finger circle) ;
• The camaraderie;
• The big dog;
• The weapons and machines; and
• Everything having a codename:
"Whiplash" for the boat teams, "Raven"
surveillance 'bird', "Blackbeard" for the SEAL team
(Actual and Main).
bet I know what got you to see this movie, in particular, from
the trailer. The SEAL who is crouched in the back of the
truck, who ducks, gets shot at, and then rises and turns to shoot
back, on one knee (!), other foot bracing him, gun ready and steady. When you saw
it, you had no idea of its place in the movie nor how it would end. The
sets the tone. The adrenaline rush of entering the
building, the shootout and takeover, the rescue, the impending
arrival of more armed enemies, the chase, blowing up an enemy truck
in pursuit, the truck hitting the water
and the Whiplash boats arriving at exactly the
right moment and unleashing hell. Talk about laying down a
suppressing fire! The sound of the guns firing rounds
that quickly was so impressive,
reactions from the audience were audible. A non-stop stream of empty shell casings
just poured out. The aerial shot showing the muzzle
flashes was like pure domination!
Rounds from the gun boats blow up
two more trucks and the enemy is
completely pinned down behind a third. The SEAL team gets on board
the rescue boats easily, and then
they take off . . . FAST! . . . and the rear boat keep firing
It's a "Holy Mother of God!" moment and they
build to it SO WELL! (That's Dave by the way in the back of the
As they go from one operation to another, and
the Action gets better and better, the tension builds
because we know what they are trying to stop from happening—it
becomes a race against time. The surveillance of the cargo planes
that land in the desert to exchange the explosive vests is
interesting. They have a
Grumman HU-16 Albatross and a
When they meet up with a submarine, the
aerial is awe inspiring. You should see the movie just for that!
“There were assets available,
but we didn’t own them. The submarine was on the surface for
less than 45 minutes. Instead of blocking it scene to scene,
we had to run it like an operation. We were in the middle of
the action, in full body armor, doing camera work. My
partner was in the helicopter doing aerial shots. I was in
full camouflage on board a platoon boat with the SEALs, so I
didn’t stand out. They were using
It tested us physically and mentally, and brought in our
skills as stuntmen.” [That's right, the
Directors are stuntmen!]
When they overtake
"Christo" (one of the
villains) on his yacht, the procedure is a multiple-method assault involving an explosion (I
think they blow up one of 2 boats
guarding the yacht), a
Mark V (pictured below),
another boat, a helicopter with SEALs who repel onto the yacht, as well as some who are
One of the guard boats flees, and the SEALs chase him and gun
him down (he shoots first). He's left to drift as they return to the main boat. The men secure Christo before "Senior" the interrogator even gets off the
helicopter, dressed in a suit! (It's covered by a jumpsuit but
how bad ass to appear before a captive, on their freshly
dressed to the teeth.)
"HOW THE WORLD REALLY WORKS"
Although the psycho temper tantrum of the villain "Shabal" also goes a
long way to making us want the SEALs to succeed, the interrogation
scene is the (dramatic) making of the movie. It's part performance, and part
message. How Senior handles Christo, how he pretends
not to know the answers and then reveals that he knows even
more, and especially, how little he lets Christo say
before pulling the rug out from under him. "Shit filter's
was priceless! The Senior Chief was in charge every
minute. "Let me tell you how the world really works"
cuts to the chase. In this chase there is no time to waste and Christo
is forced to give them the information he knows. Maybe they didn't know
specifically about the 16 explosive ceramic ball-bearing vests,
but they had already counted the Filipinos (praying as Muslims)
in the desert,
and knew there were explosives involved.5 Senior doesn't let
Christo know the SEALs are already en route to the exact
location in Mexico.
The uniqueness of this movie and how it
was filmed is a marker in Action Movie history.
Maybe our 'shit filter' is full on fakeness.
You can only CGI us so much, then we get bored. We want
relatability. We want Heroes.
"Inferno: The Making of
explains a great many things about Action
Movies really well, but, especially, what it means
to be a Hero, and the place of Action Movies in our culture.
"By the time I was 12 years old I
really didn't have any role models, I didn't have any
Heroes, I didn't have anyone I really looked up to. One
afternoon I skipped school and I went to see a film,
and the film was "Hercules", and my life changed
drastically from that point. You would have these men
trying to overcome incredible odds, even at the risk of
their own life, as a matter of fact, they would willfully
give their life for a higher ideal. And, that kind of
philosophy has followed me throughout my entire life.
Action Films, to me, are a throwback to ancient mythology.
And every culture has these stories, and they are an
integral part of the tapestry of those cultures. So, what
has been going on for thousands of years of people telling
these incredible stories around their campfires and passing
them on through word of mouth, through books, through
tablets, through cave drawings, what we do today in modern
cinema is just try to recapture that feeling using modern
techniques, but the original idea is still the same:
Heroes overcoming incredible odds to make the world a better
place. Men overcoming evil even at the cost of the
It is so on point, it could have been
said about this movie. I feel like audiences are not only hungry
for Heroes (like the awesome 80s Action Movie classics) but also
hungry for the real deal when it comes to stunt work. This
was proven when they had to get a more believable Bond and the
opener was a
free-running scene. But,
with the use of real soldiers instead of actors, it opens the
gates to use stuntmen. If Hollywood's focus is only on those who talk the talk,
but they won't recognize those who walk the walk,
then it's time for someone to do both. Since actors can't
be stuntmen, let stuntmen act.
LIVE BY THE
CODE, DIE BY THE CODE
Lt. Rorke is nearly killed
three times. When the fourth thing happens (a grenade is thrown),
he reacts to protect the others, especially Dave. It's reaction more than decision. The Code is who you are. What I loved most about this
movie is that it's a GREAT BIG REMINDER that we have values worth
protecting, worth losing (or giving) our lives for. As the movie puts it "What
do you fight for?" and "If you're not ready to give up everything,
you've already lost."
It's such a good movie on every level.
I even love the music. I saw it three times and I'll go at least
once more. I hope we see more of this kind of Action Movie.
There is no substitute for the real thing.
If you can't get enough of it, here's a
tribute video showing some of the weapons used:
In valor, there is hope for women
FEMINISM to "VALOR"
I love this movie and I love the idea of Valor.
However, while men are the only ones who can be SEALS, men are not the only ones who can be valorous. Valor
is defined as:
Val·or [val-er] noun:
boldness or determination in facing great danger, especially
in battle; heroic courage; bravery.
Women throughout history have performed
acts of valor, beginning with Eve. As a radical feminist
I believe women are people first, and should act and be be treated as such.
What I fight for is
Equality for Women matters to me is because violence against
women is epidemic. I feel women have been 'downrange' almost our
whole existence and I believe Women will not get equality until
are willing to literally fight for it. Physical strength is
the only thing that men who prey on women understand. I
say fight back. We teach our sons to defend themselves, why
not our daughters? They are in greater peril.
Young women need strong role models to emulate—truly strong
female characters in movies, and in real life, who do not allow themselves to
be objectified as male fantasies. Objectification cancels
out our power. To strong women in positions of influence I ask:
Don't participate in allowing anyone to objectify you when you
play a strong role! And don't participate in real life.
It only helps to put other young women "downrange".
The photo of the 2 Chinooks was taken by DVIDS/ Sgt.
Daniel P. Shook from a National Geographic
Photo Gallery: The Last Days of Osama bin
"Two MH-47 Chinook helicopters land before being
boarded by Afghan Commandos, with the Afghan National Army's 3rd
Commando Kandak, and U.S. Navy SEALs, with Special Operations
Task Force - South, en route to a village-clearing operation in
Shah Wali Kot District, June 20, Kandahar province, Afghanistan.
Schoolbus-size Chinook helicopters like this served as backup to
the Navy SEAL Team 6 strike team on the night of the bin
Laden mission. The Chinooks landed roughly two-thirds of the way
to the compound with two dozen SEALs on board to help respond if
the SEALs who went forward were attacked."
2 On a personal note, I once had a close encounter with a
UH-60 Black Hawk
at night. We could hear it coming but we couldn't see it
at all. Not even with a full
moon. It got within 50 feet of us but until they turned on a light
in the cabin, it was invisible. SO COOL!
Read more about their features at
How this scene was filmed
is really interesting. [It makes up for Indiana Jones
swimming to the Nazi sub and somehow sneaking on board
On another purely personal note, I loved seeing the two planes in the desert.
The larger, an unpainted
Douglas DC-3, was the plane
that used to fly to the out islands of the Bahamas.
I always thought how funny it was to have to walk the aisle at an upward slant (it didn't level off until it was in the air).
It wasn't any easier for the goats in the aisles, either.
The smaller plane (a seaplane) the
Grumman HU-16 Albatross, was used by
Chalk's International Airlines
(they had to be converted to G-111s).
Chalk's flew seaplanes regularly from Watson Island [between
Miami and Miami Beach across from where the
cruise ships enter and dock—they call it "Government Cut") to
Paradise Island, Nassau, Bahamas], until 9/11. Then they
were re-located because they were too close to the Port of
Miami. I flew one and it was the noisiest ride (on a
level with an airboat) I have even been on. There are still some
in service today. This from Wikipedia: The common saying
among aviation buffs and pilots is that "the
only replacement for a DC-3 is another DC-3." The aircraft's
legendary ruggedness is enshrined in the lighthearted
description of the DC-3 as "a collection of parts flying in
Its ability to take off and land on grass
or dirt runways makes it popular in developing countries, where
runways are not always paved.