Navy Seals

1990, Movie, R, 104 mins

Review

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Charlie Sheen and Michael Biehn star in this visually engaging, fast-paced action film about an elite anti-terrorist unit of the US Navy. Unfortunately, an uneven script and undeveloped characters weaken the dramatic content of the story. The film opens at the wedding of one of the Seals, but just as Dane (Bill Paxton) is about to walk down the aisle, he and his aquatic comrades are called to duty. The team is sent to the Middle East to rescue hostages from a ship. The mission is successful, but during the Seals' retreat, Hawkins (Sheen) discovers some stolen weapons and wants to remain behind to destroy the "Stingers" (hand-launched missiles). However, the team's leader, Curran (Biehn), orders a quick escape. Within days, the Seals are sent to Syria, where the Stingers are now believed to be on a merchant ship. Despite a skillful surprise attack, the Seals find no Stingers aboard the ship. Enter journalist and would-be love interest Claire (Joanne Whalley-Kilmer), a half-Lebanese woman who is believed to have Middle Eastern military contacts. Curran's attempts to use his good looks and charm to gain information from Claire fail, but after the terrorists start using civilian airplanes for target practice, the stubborn journalist is more willing to talk. In Cyprus, the Seals kidnap an FBI informant, but lose Dane in the process. Eventually, the informant reveals the location of the much-sought-after Stingers, and in short order, our aquatic heroes find themselves in Beirut. In the climactic final scene, two more Seals die and Curran is wounded, but the Stingers are finally destroyed.

Lewis Teague has directed an often suspenseful and visually arresting film. Obviously, much time and attention have been given to the look of the picture, which was shot by gifted cinematographer John A. Alonzo. However, despite the great set design by Guy J. Comtois and Veronica Hadfield and strong aerial photography and special effects, the film lacks dramatic consistency and impact. We never really get to know any of the main characters or why they're Navy Seals. Tellingly, even the relationship between Curran and Claire is not adequately developed. It is also difficult to understand why so much time is spent lamenting Dane's death when two more Seals die in the last scene and hardly an eye is blinked. This failure to explore the motivations of the characters, coupled with only competent performances, serves to undermine many potentially dramatic scenes. Given the filmmakers' apparent lack of interest in their main characters, it comes as no surprise that the film's Middle Easterners are faceless and completely expendable, making easier the macho glorification of violence found throughout the movie. Add an upbeat musical score by Sylvester Levay to this less-than-involving mix and you have what amounts to a less-than-involving two-hour commercial for the Navy. (Excessive violence, profanity, alcohol abuse.) leave a comment

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