Chuck Norris is in fact, an amazingly bad ass movie star. His movies aren't always that great -- sometimes they're not even good, sometimes they're truly bad -- but through it all, Chuck Norris and all his awesome facts, is one cool dude. I haven't seen many of his movies, but I do my best to catch up with them, like 1986's The Delta Force, loosely based on the true story of real-life 1985 hijacking of TWA Flight 847.
Flying out of Cairo with scheduled stops at Athens, Rome and New York City, ATW Flight 282 takes off with 100-plus passengers on-board. Not too long after takeoff, terrorists from the New World Revolutionary Organization led by a man named Abdul (Robert Forster) hijack the plane, starting a chain of events as the plane tries to find a landing site to deal with the terrorists and all their hostages. While the terrorists' demands are up in the air, an elite American special forces out, the Delta Force, led by Colonel Nick Alexander (Lee Marvin) and his second-in-command, Major Scott McCoy (Norris), is scrambled to help rescue the hostages. Can the Delta Force get their in time and rescue the hostages in time against nearly insurmountable odds as the terrorists prep to go out in a blaze of glory?
What an odd, weird movie. From director Menahem Golan (who co-wrote the script with James Bruner), 'Delta' was filmed on-location at a new studio in Jerusalem, the GG Israel Studios. The Israeli locations are pretty cool, adding an authentic look and feel to the story. Now with that said, it's a big old mess of a flick with some -- if not enough -- entertaining qualities. It mixes touches of disaster movies, action heavy shoot 'em ups and plenty of patriotic flag-waving, bouncing back and forth among the different angles. It's almost schizophrenic, never finding a rhythm. We go from on-board hostages to diplomatic and government situations, airport to Delta Force, hostages to terrorists. I felt like key parts of the story that explain what went on are completely missing. Title cards try and explain how and when and where, but there seems to be chunks completely cut away. Different segments with no real unifying link.
Instead of that focus on story and character and plot development, 'Delta' rides on one thing; Chuck Norris' awesomeness. That's it. That's all. Unfortunately, he's kept in the background for most of the first hour of the movie.When his McCoy is on-screen, Norris makes the most of it, his experienced Delta Force leader worn down by the horrors of fighting. That said, he sure embraces that whole fighting thing. The last 45 minutes (more on it later) are one scene after another where Norris' McCoy goes all America on some terrorist ass. He jumps off buildings, shoots, punches, and stabs countless terrorists while riding a motorcycle rigged with seemingly infinite rockets and missiles. In another way of showing how cool he is, McCoy typically likes to enter or leave a room by jumping through a window, opening the door for all sorts of badass entrances. Great drama it is not, but in the badass department, 'Delta' succeeds thanks to Norris.
In his last movie before his death a year later in 1987, Marvin is as cool as ever as Col. Alexander, the no-nonsense, smart-ass Delta Force leader, always ready with a quick shot from the hip or a snappy one-liner. Their scenes aren't too long, but Marvin and Norris are an excellent team together. Who else to look for? How about Robert Vaughn as the Delta Force commander back in Washington D.C. Oh, and some of the hostages? George Kennedy, Martin Balsam, Shelley Winters, Joey Bishop, Lainie Kazan, and a young Kim Delaney as a nun with Bo Svenson as the pilot of the hijacked jet airliner. Not a bad cast by any means, just the opposite, but the disjointed story doesn't give most of them a chance to do anything. George Kennedy manages to rise above the story, as do Balsam and Svenson.
If you can make it to the last 45 minutes, you'll be rewarded. It's almost non-stop from there until the final scene, making up for the slowish first 80 minutes and its schizophrenic nature that's all over the freaking place. In general, it's a pretty cheesy 1980s action movie with all sorts of good cliches and stereotypes. The Delta Force theme is unintentionally funny -- nice work from composer Alan Silvestri -- with an almost pleasant, light-hearted feel to it. Listen HERE if curious. You almost expect to be played over a sports movie montage.
Not a bad movie, not necessarily a good movie either, but entertaining enough. Cool cast that isn't used to its potential, but Marvin and Norris make it worthwhile.
The Delta Force (1986): ** 1/2 /****