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  Iron Eagle Fly Too High
Year: 1986
Director: Sidney J. Furie
Stars: Louis Gossett Jr, Jason Gedrick, David Suchet, Larry B. Scott, Caroline Lagerfelt, Jerry Levine, Robbie Rist, Michael Bowen, Robert Jayne, Melora Hardin, David Greenlee, Michael Alldredge, Lance LeGault, Tim Thomerson, Tom Fridley, Shawnee Smith
Genre: Action, WarBuy from Amazon
Rating:  4 (from 1 vote)
Review: Doug Masters (Jason Gedrick) is an eighteen-year-old son of a United States Air Force pilot who stays with his family on an airbase, but he hankers to follow in his father's footsteps and is awaiting a letter from the flight academy to see if he has been accepted into their training programme or not. Meanwhile he hangs out with his friends, but not everyone is his pal, as he has a rival in another boy from the base who is always challenging him to races, he on his motorbike and Doug in his light aircraft he uses to train in. Today, after an altercation they get into another impromptu contest, with Doug soaring through canyons in a bid to beat the bike, though his plane has been sabotaged...

Don't worry, he doesn't end up splattered all over the ground like the other boy who tried this last, not that we see that casualty but his name is invoked as a tension-builder, as he has bigger fish to fry. His dad, Colonel Ted Masters (Tim Thomerson) has been shot down over enemy territory that isn't, as the Americans believed they had every right to be there, so the cards are stacked against the bad guys from the start, and it only gets worse when they keep the Colonel in a jail cell and refuse to hand him over. But don't worry everyone, this is Ronald Reagan's military we had on our side, and we can rely on them to do, er, absolutely nothing, which would seem to dispute the gung ho themes of the rest of the movie.

After all, this was the film where the token black guy (Larry B. Scott, also doubling as comic relief) espouses total faith in Reagan and his foreign policy, so you'd expect at least a bombing raid to give the Middle Eastern nation what for and show them who's boss. That unnamed Middle Eastern nation, as if the scriptwriters, among them director Sidney J. Furie, were reluctant to be pinned down as to where exactly this was taking place, so everything from the villains to the air base were located in intentionally vague areas, meaning Colonel Masters could have taken off from California and flown to the Mediterranean then shot down over Libya. Which made head antagonist David Suchet (also unnamed) the stand-in for Colonel Gadaffi, relishing lines that finish "...and keel them!"

It was perhaps indicative of how the United States public were regarding their perceived enemies that they could fully endorse the raging patriotism on display without giving any further thought to what it was they were backing, but Top Gun did much the same a few months later and that was an even bigger success, so it was obviously a spirit of the times that these action flicks captured. But then, Iron Eagle was an entertainment aimed at kids for whom such uncomplicated goodies versus baddies melodrama would play a lot better than it would for anyone with any experience of the actual military, as they would find out should they be moved to join up on the strength of these works, so that was all right then.

Only even among the target audience it was admitted, grudgingly or not, that Iron Eagle was absolutely ridiculous, and the notion that a teenager could steal a jet fighter and fly it to er, that particular evil country, with only the help of Louis Gossett Jr was farfetched to say the least. Wait, Louis Gossett Jr? That's right, he wasn't playing a token character, he was the Obi-Wan Kenobi to Doug's Luke Skywalker, much given to going off on one in stentorian rage at the drop of a hat, when he wasn't insisting on carrying on a conversation with the understandably nervous teen as he takes a shower, or shaking his booty to James Brown. Talking of music, Doug finds he cannot shoot down and kill rival pilots unless he has a cassette playing in his Walkman, which by pure coincidence only blares tracks from the Iron Eagle soundtrack album, available in all good stores. Add to that the revelation that the enemy jets are made of wood, as seen when they explode, and you had a feast for bad movie viewers itching to take apart a film that couldn't have been more daft. Music by Basil Poledouris.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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