(This piece was also done in connection with Command Posts over at St. Martin’s Press, Publisher of my book The Red Circle.)

There’s a very distinct crack when a real shot goes off.  It’s a different sound entirely when it “snaps” (from the bullet breaking the sound barrier) overhead as you’re getting shot at.  The SEALs-Bandito Brothers match-up delivered for the SOF community.  The scenes in the film are done right, finally it’s happened.  Act of Valor (AOV) is the most technically sound film about Special Operations.

From a Call of Duty couch, the life of a SEAL or SOF Operator seems exciting. But in the real world the bullets rip flesh from your body and there are real consequences. Lives are at stake.

Act of Valor nails it.

Muscle memory isn’t something that can be picked up in a few weeks or months of training. You practice tactical movements over and over, until they’re precise and embedded in your subconscious. When SEAL Operators move through a building, they’re on autopilot. They move like a centipede, snaking the assault train through target buildings.

Sweeping your teammate? Not with AOV.

That’s a classic Hollywood mistake—and something the Act of Valor team avoided like the enemy.

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You turn the corner just as another guy comes out and you’re face-to-face, there’s no confusion, shouting, pointing guns. You automatically know good from bad and quickly identify good buy versus bad. This is what happens when instinct kicks in and split-second decisions are made.

Those FDNY badges worn by SEALs in the film?  Post 9/11, my platoon was among the first on the ground in Afghanistan. We rocked those FDNY Badges in honor of the sacrifice the men and women of 9-11 made that day.  There’s more than one bad guy whose final vision was of one of our FDNY patches before we turned his lights out.

It’s the small details that matter.  They brought a realism and authenticity to Act of Valor that hasn’t been done in any other Special Operations-focused film.  This film does right by the US SOCOM community.

Did the film give away too much? Not even close.

Act of Valor lets viewers watch the game unfold, but it doesn’t give them access to the secret playbook.

The SEALs in the movie ran the combat tactics in the movie, but there are no detailed descriptions, and let me tell you, there is a lot of unseen information. Movie watchers will not see how all the moving pieces will flow and work together on the battlefield.

And the guys who showed their faces to the world?

The guys chosen for the film are in the later part of their SEAL careers. They made the call to accept a role within the film, with the support of the Navy, and sure, certain “black side” career options will be closed off to them.

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As far as their safety goes, Al Queda’s and Hammas’ M.O.’s don’t feature routine targeting of well-trained SpecOps operators. The men who revealed their faces aren’t facing imminent threat. More than anything, they showed what they are capable of doing – why they shouldn’t be targeted.

ACT OF VALOR did right by the SEAL community and SOF brotherhood at large by focusing on the families and those we’ve lost.

In the real world, we say our goodbyes to family and friends, and it’s a stoic experience all around. We’ve lost a lot of good Team Guys over the years.

I was scrolling through my iPhone the other day and came across yet another teammate in my contacts that is no longer with us. I just couldn’t bring myself to delete it (we all have our own demons).

While AOV is about SEALs, to us that know, it’s much bigger than that.  It’s about all of the men and women Warfighters who sacrifice to make freedom possible.  It’s about the sacrifice their families make on a daily basis that no one ever hears about.

ACT OF VALOR did justice to the SEAL community and SOF brotherhood at large. It’s a film we can all be proud of as Operators; after all, we are all cut from the same SOF cloth.

Check out the Real Acts of Valor

One of the major reasons the guys and I started SOFREP was to hold the flame of a unified SOF “truth”. To ensure the information communicated to the public about our community is correct and legit.  And most importantly it is to honor our fallen SOF brothers and their families who made the ultimate sacrifice to protect the freedoms we enjoy.

“See you on the other side Gents…..”-Brandon (BUD/S Class 215)