For anyone who is a sucker for a submarine movie - you can count me in - the thriller "Act of Valor" is a sure bet. Don't miss it.
OK, the submarine appears only briefly, I must admit.
But the scenes of it surfacing and then diving are excellent. There are also a few shots on the bridge.
Best of all, the movie, which features the exploits of a team of real Navy SEALs, shows a cool little mini sub piggybacked on the deck of the big sub. The SEALs use it to go ashore to create some mayhem for the bad guys.
This, we are often told by the politicians lobbying for all that new submarine development money, is the future of the submarine service in a defense psyche influenced by the war on terror.
American submarines are no longer simply engaged in cat-and-mouse games with Russian submarines in far corners of the ocean, we are told. They are also relevant in a developing realm of precision warfare.
And sure enough, in "Act of Valor," the SEALs aboard a nuclear submarine gear up in wet suits and off they go, secretly and quietly, aboard the mini sub.
Of course, the submarine is only a small part of this engaging movie, one I found surprisingly interesting and informative. I had the sense that many of the people around me in the crowded theater were submariners and their families.
Many sat still and stayed on through the credits.
It's that kind of movie. Not only do you feel you learned something, but you also want to know more.
You get to see real defense systems in use.
"Act of Valor," which has been a surprise hit at the box office, has an unusual history of development.
It actually started out as a recruitment film - using SEALs - as the government tried to ramp up manpower for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Eventually, the producers realized they were on to something and the project evolved into a feature film with some fictional incidents using the real SEALs.
Of course, it became more timely and much hotter property after the successful raid in which Osama bin Laden was killed.
The movie has drawn some political fire for its reliance on all that real equipment, like a nuclear submarine. And some defense experts say it gives away a few too many secrets.
For those who worry about any propaganda aspects to the movie, I would point out that recruitment films don't usually end with a flag-draped coffin.
And really, through most of the movie, while watching the very brave SEALs in action, shooting real ammunition from real guns, you wonder what made them volunteer in the first place. I guess it's an apex of patriotism.
When the movie had its premier in Hollywood, the SEALs were there. In fact, they parachuted down to the red carpet on Sunset Boulevard.
Can you get more American than that?
Budget-cutting season will be here again soon, right after election season is over. The defense budget and expensive submarines will be on the line again.
It would seem that "Act of Valor" probably has helped make spending tax dollars on clever defense systems a little more popular, especially when they could be destined to be used in acts of valor.
This is the opinion of David Collins.