Iron Eagle II (1988) — Russia and the U.S. tag-team on the Middle East

“We’ve got a Five Ton Welcoming Committee homing in on us, and the son of a bitch ain’t smiling.”

Justin’s rating: Da svidaniya, fun-loving Russia. This new Russia is far less willing to party, I can tell you that.

Justin’s review: For some reason, movie studios got it into their heads sometime in the ’80s that they, and they alone, were the premiere diplomats who were going to unite the capitalistic west and the communist east in peace and hugs. So while the Cold War was raging on and Ronnie Reagan was recruiting some Star Wars to help the “good guys” out, we were inundated with film after film of American and Russian Joy Luck Club pairings.

That somehow led us to Iron Eagle II, which ends up being Top Gun meets Police Academy: Mission to Moscow. I can only guess how much that thrills you to contemplate.

That naughty nameless Middle Eastern country — we shall call it Iraybiaq — is up to its old tricks, this time with a nuclear missile silo that threatens both the USA and Russia. Although a cursory glance at a map might suggest that Russia would sport more flopsweat based on country proximity. In any case, a joint military expedition is planned, and pilots from both sides pack up their stereotypes and meet together in Israel (?) to train for the fun ahead.

One does wonder why a threat of such incredible importance would have the timing leeway to assemble a completely new team of pilots and allow them to train for mere weeks, as it may, but one also does not question the orders of a superior film making studio.

Professional soldiers that they are, the pilots immediately begin squabbling and acting like spoiled brats, brats where half have funny accents and the other half keeps eating apple pie like it’s going out of style. Only the sheer acting prowess of Mr. Gossett Jr. is able to keep them in line and prepare them for the mission, probably with a lot of spankings and threats to their allowances.

The middle 80% of this movie is mostly barrack scene-tension point-training mission-aftermath, a rinse and repeat cycle that wears down the “prejudices” of these two countries that obviously have a lot in common. Except, of course, that one promotes freedom and the other ships their problem cases to Siberia. But other than that? Dancing through meadows, hand in hand, singing “Kumbaya, My Lord, Kumbaya.”

If you can choke all the national getalong swill down in the name of waiting for exciting action sequences, then I assume you’re still waiting ever since this film’s release in 1988. Like most fighter plane action flicks, I’m let down by the technical limitations of the sequences. Cutting between planes flying from left to right, then shots of the pilots’ heads in the cockpits, then random explosions just doesn’t do much for me. Half of the flight scenes look as if they were shot for military training videos, and by the climactic battle, I was mostly tuned out and thinking about whether or not I should attempt my famous chili recipe for dinner that night. (I did.)

By now we have learned the lesson that Iron Eagle II struggled so hard to teach us: that there’s always an enemy-of-my-enemy that can bind two former enemies together in mutual aggression. Booyah!

Didja notice?

  • Russians get their own evil synth theme
  • Ah the tenuous connection to Doug Masters from the first movie
  • When the two planes move to intercept Doug and Cooper, Doug ID’s them as MIG-29’s. However, these two planes (as well as two others seen later) are actually F-4 Phantoms.

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