McBain (1991) [Blu-Ray]

Now Available from Synapse Films.

Not enough people discuss the glut of post-Vietnam movies made in the 1980’s and “McBain” is one of the many. There were either the acclaimed prestige pictures like “Deer Hunter” or the more exploitative and cheesy films like “Rambo.” Glickhaus’ “McBain” falls in to the latter category where it watches a lot like a post-Vietnam big film version of “The A Team” or “The Wild Bunch” to where Christopher Walken leads a ragtag bunch of men to avenge their best friend.

James Glickenhaus’ action thriller feels like a response to “Deer Hunter” where Christopher Walken is a man forever affected by his own experience in Vietnam. Walken is McBain a POW saved by a platoon at the end of the Vietnam war. Years later when one of his rescuers is killed during a takeover of a corrupt Columbian government, he emerges to assemble the old platoon to avenge their friend by taking down the Columbian dictator.

And don’t worry, along with being able to go on this mission, they fund it by attacking random crime syndicates in carefully staged sting operations. It’s fun! Among the cast, there’s a very steady and impressive group of character actors including Michael Ironside, the one and only Steve James, TG Waites, Jay Patterson, and Maria Conchita Alonso, respectively. Glickenhaus’s war film is about as straight forward as it gets, staging a lot of establishing back stories, and bringing them back one last hurrah. There’s a lot of focus on their inability to adjust to civilization and how Vietnam changed them all, as most post-Vietnam movies were prone to do.

Even the less serious movies were always one to tackle these themes, and the movie has fun while also never shying away from obvious ideas from this sub-sub-genre. It’s cheesy schlocky fodder, but dammit where else can you find Steve James shooting a missile launcher at an airport tower? Where else will you find four old Vietnam vets overthrow a Colombian government?

Featured in the Blu-Ray is an Audio Commentary with writer/director James Glickenhaus and film historian Chris Poggiali. Finally, there’s a vintage Theatrical Trailer for “McBain” included.