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  Delta Force, The Non-Negotiable
Year: 1986
Director: Menahem Golan
Stars: Chuck Norris, Lee Marvin, Martin Balsam, Joey Bishop, Robert Forster, Lainie Kazan, George Kennedy, Hanna Schygulla, Susan Strasberg, Bo Svenson, Robert Vaughn, Shelley Winters, William Wallace, Charles Grant, Steve James, Kim Delaney, Natalie Roth
Genre: Action, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  4 (from 2 votes)
Review: Back in 1980, there was a failed attempt by the American Delta Force, a special military unit, to release U.S. hostages in Iran but the effort ended in failure, and Captain Scott McCoy (Chuck Norris) was almost left behind when he went back to save a comrade just as their transport plane was taking off. Now, five years later, and a flight from Athens to New York City by way of Rome hits difficulties when two men interrupt the journey by standing up, brandishing guns and ordering the plane be taken to Beirut. With a mostly American passenger list, the U.S. Government are put in a difficult position...

The Delta Force was based on a true incident, adpated by director Menahem Golan and his co-writer James Bruner, and that was the hijacking of TWA Flight 847 which had ended with one military passenger dead and the other hostages eventually freed after quite some time. At first with this film, it's easy to contemplate this being an all star disaster movie based on real events, with only the names changed - after all, star of the Airport series George Kennedy is one of those aboard. But after a while Golan loses interest in that and the story turns ridiculous.

Apparently aggrieved that Israel was forced to to turn over prisoners because of this infamous incident, Golan opted to get his revenge on behalf of his home country in cinematic form, which, while understandable, looks too much like he has a poor grasp of international politics. This is a shame, because if you're willing to look past all those stars playing the roles, the story starts out with considerable tension: for instance the giveaway ring with Hebrew lettering that has to be hidden by one Jewish woman, or the terrorist leader Abdul (Robert Forster) asking for passports so he can work out who is Jewish and who isn't.

There's even an attempt to shade Abdul's sidekick as less cartoonish when he is nice to a small child and a pregnant woman, and Hanna Schygulla as the head stewardess, based on the actual Flight 847 stewardess Uli Derickson, proves herself to be a valuable character as she endeavours to ameliorate the drastic sitation. Alas, all this promise is dropped like a hot potato once Chuck arrives with his troops, ostensibly led by Lee Marvin in what turned out to be his final role. Although what went before could be seen as T.V. movie stuff, it still comes across as a betrayal for those interested in how that aspect of the plot was heading, because the gung ho business is like a different film.

So out with the gritty hijack drama and in with explosions, machine gun fire and big vehicles to zoom about while missiles streak through the air. I suppose we should have expected it with Norris making his presence felt, but the second half has very little basis in real life and appears to consider the best way to implement sensitive foreign policy on America's part is to shoot or blow up everyone who is a threat to your way of life. So when two sets of hostages are sent to two different locations in the Middle East, it's up to the Delta Force to free them, which they do with remarkable ease thanks to the power of their weaponry. Even the ruthless Abdul is made a fool of thanks to McCoy's motorcycle, which so happens to have been kitted out with rockets. What this film ends up as is more Megaforce than Delta Force - seekers after eighties cheese need look no further. Music by Alan Silvestri.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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