The Best Movie Critic + sport

Delta Force

Justin here again, Notes on Camp will most likely return next week. In the meantime, let’s take a look at the camp-tastic Delta Force.

If you wanted to point to a movie that perfectly sums up why Islamic extremists hate America, you need look no farther than the Cannon Group gem, Delta Force. It’s all here, our cozy relationship to Israel, the pastiche portrait of Islamic terrorists who are so generic and homogenized that there is nothing remotely believable about them, the American superman who is both righteous and endowed with god-like abilities, and the die hard straight-face belief in American exceptionalism. Delta Force is like the love child of Glenn Beck and the second amendment raised and by Lone Wolf McQuaid.

It’s a lot of dumb fun though. The opening vignette of Delta Force had me worried. The team was out doing a rescue operation and the set was soooooooo low budget. My confidence wasn’t bolstered by what immediately followed. An airplane full of Americans gets hijacked by the generic terrorists. I assumed the rest of the movie would take place on the plane and the tarmac. Director/Producer Menahem Golan though managed to keep upping the stakes and the ridiculousness for the whole two hours, culminating in some of the stupidest, most badass nonsense I’ve ever seen.

While watching Delta Force, I kept jumping back and forth between wanting to triumphantly hi-five someone and feeling like I was about to throw up a little. The set-up is so ridiculous. On the hijacked plane, the Islamic Terrorists decide to pick through everyone’s passports singling out the Jewish passengers for “special treatment.” One of them has a concentration camp tattoo on his arm. The daughter of another one pleads with the terrorists and gives her dad her teddy bear to hang onto. A priest played by the incomparable George Kennedy joins the Jews in solidarity. The terrorists soon find out that three Navy men are on the flight and take them too berating them about the American military. The German flight attendant is forced to pick through passports separating the ones with Jewish names from the rest as she bemoans being compared to a Nazi. Clearly the terrorists are pure evil, beyond that, they’re Walker Texas Ranger level evil, so then there is only one man who can stop them, Chuck Norris.

I’m not the biggest Chuck Norris fan around. Of all the classic tough guys: Schwarzenegger, Willis, Bronson, Stallone, Seagal, etc. he’s my least favorite. I don’t really know what it is about him. I can’t help but find his kung-fu-cowboy-spec ops shtick extra ridiculous. Growing up, one of my friend’s dads was an actual Texas Ranger and didn’t act at all like Norris (though if memory serves he was particularly fond of Walker). Calling Norris’ acting chops are extremely limited is perhaps being too charitable. Any scene that doesn’t directly involve him kicking ass just comes off as a little weird. Don’t believe me, check out The Octagon and watch him drive around and take people out to dinner for 90 minutes and tell me it isn’t ridiculously awkward. Luckily though, while Norris is the star of the show, he really isn’t in the movie as much as you may think. The majority of the first and second acts take place inside the plane with relatively decent character actors advancing the plot. On the ground, exposition is handled by personal favorite, Lee Marvin in his last role.

What starts as a rescue operation on a plane turns into a larger ground operation with The Delta Force having to rescue hostages in three different locations on the ground one after another. The climax did not disappoint and was stretched out to the breaking point. In tone and ludicrousness, it’s a lot like the end of Commando, lots of explosions, lots of bullets flying, and lots of action everywhere. The whole segment culminates in what was simultaneously one of the most hilarious and badass shots I’ve ever seen. Chuck Norris is chasing down the terrorists on his custom black stealth fighter looking motorcycle with built-in rocket launchers and a machine gun. The terrorist motorcade is about to make their mistake when their path is cut off by Norris who just stares them down. The terrorists are so upset that they jump out of the car yelling in Arabic. Norris just shakes his head and starts shooting rockets. I think it was at this precise moment that I decided that I love this movie.

Spoiler alert: The Delta Force saves the day and the hostages. On the flight back to Israel, one of the crew finds a case of cold Budweiser and passes them out to everyone. God bless America. Interestingly enough though, this most American of movies was directed by Menahem Golan, who was also responsible for The Apple which is the polar opposite of this movie. This is a big dumb movie that even the least patriotic of Americans should be able to get behind for the sheer spectacle of it all.

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