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'Iron Eagle' (PG)

By Richard Harrington
Washington Post Staff Writer
November 15, 1988

If "Up, Up and Away" is your kind of song, you may like "Iron Eagle II," which became inevitable once "Iron Eagle" became a minor hit a few years back. Louis Gossett Jr. is back as Brig. Gen. Charles (Chappy) Sinclair, the less gruff, more lovable variation of his drill instructor from "An Officer and a Gentleman." Chappy doesn't do much flying, of course, because that's up to his new team, half misfit Americans and half Soviets, including one attractive distaff sergeant (Sharon H. Brandon) who's Red, willing and able to cross flight paths with hotshot Capt. Matt Cooper (Mark Humphrey).

This being the age of glasnost, the film world is suddenly serving up shifting alliances and joint Soviet-American military operations (also a theme in the upcoming "Delta Force" sequel). The underlying tensions of such ventures after years of distrust and outright enmity are suggested here in the fliers' competitive encounters and the occasional stupid jet trick, but there is also a sense of shared purpose: An unidentified Middle Eastern country (probably Libya) is about to activate a nuclear missile site capable of hitting both the Soviet Union and the United States. The solution? A joint preemptive strike. Incidentally, "Iron Eagle II" was financed by Israeli producers and shot on location in Israel with the cooperation of the Israeli Ministry of Defense.

Anyone with a passion for airplanes will love the F16A Falcons, Kfirs-C-2 and the F4E Phantoms doubling as Mig-29s. You'll love the trembling cockpit head shots and the close maneuvering, though you may wonder why you never see a fired missile hit a plane without a crude jump cut. The film plays like a video game. The training sequence is long and tedious, the comrade-rie is short and tedious. The mission gets accomplished despite last-minute problems and the Cold War is reduced to repartee. It's all pretty boring and the soundtrack is ludicrous, a sort of "Pop Gun" that includes the worst-ever Springsteen imitation on "Trapped."

Iron Eagle II is rated PG

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