What is the plot and setting of the movie Act of Valor?  Act of Valor is a 2012 American war film directed by Mike McCoy and Scott Waugh and written by Kurt Johnstad. 

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sciftw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

When Act of Valor was originally conceived, it was planned to be more of a recruitment and documentary film about the Navy SEALs.  Consequently, the film doesn’t benefit from having a tight plot with solid character development.  It plays more like a highlight reel of soldiers blowing stuff up and doing brave acts.  Real grenades were even used in the filming of the movie.  There’s not much Hollywood "fakery" going on in this film.  Real Navy SEALs played the part of the soldiers as well, so all of the action looks completely realistic; however, because the “actors” are not actual actors, the directors focus more on moving the movie from location to location and event to event.  Characters are secondary.

The setting locations are as varied as the action sequences.  Audiences spend time in Coronado, CA, the Philippines, Indonesia, Costa Rica, Somalia, Mexico, a U.S. Navy amphibious assault ship, a submarine, and even a C-130 transport plane.

The movie begins in the Philippines, where a terrorist kills the U.S. ambassador and a bunch of school children (including the ambassador’s son) with an improvised explosive device (IED). The terrorist is a Chechen named Abu Shabal, and he escapes to a terrorist training camp in Indonesia.  

The film then takes viewers to Costa Rica, where CIA operative Lisa Morales is captured and imprisoned by a drug smuggler named Christo.

Next, the film takes viewers to the United States and introduces viewers to the seven SEALs that will be deployed to rescue and exfiltrate Morales. The SEALs parachute into the Costa Rican jungle and rescue Morales.  One of the SEALs is wounded during the rescue operation, and the team is forced to make a hectic escape under heavy enemy fire.  

Aboard the USS Bonhomme Richard, Morales confirms that Shabal and Christo are working together on a terrorist plot that involves extremely thin and powerful explosive vests that cannot be detected by metal detectors. Two of the SEALs (Ajay and Ray) are sent to Somalia to attempt to find out more information about Shabal and an arms deal.

Ajay and Ray parachute from a C-130 and rendezvous with a submarine. The two men confirm Shabal’s presence along with 16 other terrorists.  Shabal and those terrorists then head to an island off of Baja California.  The SEAL team assaults the terrorists, and half of the terrorists are killed. Unfortunately, Shabal escapes.  

At the same time, a second SEAL team successfully captures and interrogates Christo.  Christo reveals that Shabal is planning an attack on the U.S. that rivals the scope of the September 11 attacks.  The team then rushes off to Mexico in order to stop Shabal from entering the U.S. through a tunnel system.  A huge gunfight follows, where several SEALs are either killed or wounded, and Shabal is killed.  The movie ends with a military funeral for the soldiers that were killed.