Aug 12, 2006

Movie review 

With all that's going on in the world these days, I thought it was about time that I talked about something that was really important... a movie. "But WHAT movie," you say? World Trade Center? Flight 93? Talladega Nights?

No no, my friends. A film far more "B" than ANY of those could hope to be... The Hunt For Eagle One.

Wow... I mean WOW. These guys could have made a lower budget movie only if they had been robbed of all their cash mid-production. But despite that... I liked it anyway.

I never would have watched this movie - never would have probably heard of it even - if it wasn't for the fact that I recently started working with a Gunny who was the military technical advisor for the film and it came up when we were talking. Sadly, the production didn't really follow his advice to the letter... I mean, Rutger Hauer is a General who's walking around with his sleeves rolled up the wrong way (Army style) for the whole film.

But here's the lowdown. The story is set on the island of Mindanao in the southern Philippines. American Marines are advising and fighting alongside the Filipino Army as they try to root out Al-Qaeda connected Islamist terrorist groups. On this basis alone, they could have sold it as "reality based." But from there... mheh...

As the Army gears up to push on the terrorist positions, a Huey with a strike team on it gets shot down by the terrorists, forcing the pilot (Theresa Randle) to go on the run. Sadly for her, she don't get too far before she gets rolled up. Sadly for my Gunny, he was in this scene aboard the helo (so he got screen time and a few lines - cool!), but apparently he didn't survive the crash, and even more unfortunately his character was - horrors! - a Lieutenant. He will receive no end of crap for this come Monday, I promise you.

So, send in the rescue team, led by Mark Dacascos as a Marine Lieutenant. Dacascos has pretty much been trapped in B-movie hell his whole career, but he is one of the stars of the excellent - though French - Brotherhood of the Wolf. On that basis alone, I give him a bye. And happily the Gunny was able to fix him enough so that he does a rather admirable job portraying a Marine.

What follows from the helo shootdown is basically a 90-minute running gun fight. These guys followed the "Rambo" rules: more shooting, less dialog. Okay... not much of a story to begin with, why try to muck it up with talking halfway through, right? I can live with that.

What this film ends up being is - for lack of a better description - propaganda. The Marines are The Good Guys, the terrorists are The Bad Guys, and that's it. There's no attempt at any "deeper understanding" of the terrorists' motivations. They kill or torture prisoners. They call upon Allah for Death to America. They are B.A.D.

The Marines on the other hand, along with the Filipino Army, are salt-of-the-earth, 100% gung-ho, justified defenders of freedom, that refuse to leave a fallen man behind and are committed to watching each other's backs - the brass hats in D.C. be damned. I DIG IT.

Why can't they throw some money at something like this and maybe do it up right, instead of shoot it straight to video? Anybody in Hollywood out there that wants to get on our team and come on in for the big win? Anyone? Bueller? Hello?

Oh, well. Like I said, even with the Gunny's help this film had it's share of snafus. The pilot's flight suit was totally wrong, looking more like something the Army would wear (but still wrong, even for the Army). The General's sleeves were rolled up Army style. Some of the gear was a little too "after market" - like Marines don't use the scope that the one character has on his M-16 (but I guess getting ahold of an ACOG proved too difficult for these guys). And two of the Marines were Specialists... once again reflective of the ARMY and not the Marine Corps. Also, when I looked at the credits I found out that one of the guys that the Lt. is giving orders to through the whole film is a CAPTAIN... oops. They fix this in the sequel by demoting the guy to 2ndLt... sucks to be him, I guess. And according to my Gunny, he was on board for the sequel and once again got a few lines... but they were dubbed by someone else. Which is funny considering that he has no accent to deal with, unless you count "American" as an accent. Kinda strange. Especially since his character was apparently killed in the helo crash... hmm...

But on the good side, it's a movie that clearly shows us as the good guys, Islamic terrorists as the bad guys, and the actors do a decent job with what they're given, making things look as realistic as a small budget and sub-par writing will allow. And Rutger Hauer - who's Dutch - proves that he's a better American than Gary Busey, who's fast losing his street cred. Ooh-rah.

"The Hunt For Eagle One"
is rated R, though I can't really tell why, as there is no sex, little swearing, and the violence is mostly bloodless and reminiscent of old WWII movies. It can be picked up at your local Blockbuster, or if you're WAY motivated, you can get it from Amazon. I'd recommend the Blockbuster first, as your mileage may vary on repeat viewings. But it's a good enough pizza, beer, America F*ck Yeah! movie for a Saturday night.

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