Navy SEALS (1990)

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Lewis Teague’s action thriller feels a lot like one of the last vestiges of the Reagan Era, where movies marketed on promoting military and America, and “Navy SEALS” feels like too little, too late. Even for the eighties, “Navy SEALS” is corny jingoistic propaganda that teams a slew of great movie stars to deliver what is basically a middling attempt to recapture some of the “Top Gun” glory of the eighties. Even star Michael Biehn didn’t like “Navy SEALS” explaining that it was one of his worst movie making experiences of his career.

Navy special operations forces go to the Middle East to free a helicopter crew taken captive by terrorist Ben Shaheed. After learning that Shaheed has killed a hostage and acquired missiles on the black market, Lt. James Curran and Lt. Dale Hawkins consult with a reporter who is an expert on Shaheed and his motives. As Shaheed embarks on his plan to violently derail regional treaty talks, the special operations forces make their move.

“Navy SEALS” is a painfully unfocused and often times confusing movie that never really knows if it wants to depict its characters as flawed heroes, or GI Joe’s in the flesh. One minute one of the main characters is having it out with his wife who is anxious to marry him, the next these characters bragging about murdering Arab terrorists while on duty. Teague exercises a lot of the goofy action movie tropes that Rambo, and Chuck Norris bled dry, pitting fresh faced Americans against dirty Arabs and drawing huge obvious contrasts between the two. Teague purposely juxtaposes a lot of footage of Arabs being tortured and imprisoned with scenes of our heroes having a boys day out wreaking havoc on a golf course.

And if for not other reason than to let Charlie Sheen have the spotlight, there’s a pointless sequence where takes back a car that was just repossessed from him while golfing. The characters, despite being played by stellar performers, don’t have much personality to them. Sheen is kind of the hot headed younger soldier but isn’t really ever taken to task for his recklessness, Michael Biehn spends a lot of his time bantering with superiors for a majority of the film while being given a hamfisted romance. All the while folks like Bill Paxton and Dennis Haysbert are generally wasted in smaller roles, the latter of whom is predictably turned in to cannon fodder.

Teague and the producers paint a lot of the military warfare like a video game, with no real focus on the trauma or battle worn lives these men might be leading. Even when one of their own suffers a tragic death in combat, the movie still ends with the surviving group cackling after a big battle like an episode of “A Team.” I love the cast, but “Navy SEALS” is a movie that, even in 1990, feels like a silly relic of a bygone era that was thankfully dead for a very long time.