MegaForce (1982)

Megaforce!

What’s one clue that you’re in for a big steaming bowl of cinematic crapola? When you can’t even make it through the opening credits without feeling like you’ve been kicked in the head. MegaForce sustains its reputation as a mighty assault force by attacking the audience with an opening credits pincer movement. One arm of the pincer is the visuals. These appear to be “action” scenes from the movie, processed as a negative image and then overexposed. The result is somewhat like an extremely poor and obnoxious animation technique. Then, once the visuals have you reeling, the “music” starts in. Imagine a tone deaf cat with three legs jumping around on a defective Moog Synthesizer keyboard that’s set on a “disco” beat. OK, now imagine something that sounds much worse. There, that’s closer. Make sure you’re not imagining a melody or anything. That’s close enough. No use making yourselves sick.

Even the credits themselves fill the experienced viewer with dread. First off, there’s the fact that this is advertised as a “Hal Needham Film”. Needham was the guy who brought Burt Reynolds to his superstar heights with the amiable Hooper and Smokey and the Bandit. Unfortunately, they didn’t stop there. Instead, they continued with another “Bandit” movie, two Cannonball Run pictures and the unwatchable Stoker Ace. By the time they got done beating that dead horse (in this case, the “Laid Back Southern Good Ol’ Boy” movie), Reynolds’ career was in a shambles. Needham ended up making only a few pictures without Burt, and the reason why is right here on my TV screen. Also, it’s generally not a good sign when camera systems and such are given opening credit title cards. Watching, we learn that the movie was “filmed with IntroVision” (?) and that “Parachute and Flying Sequences by Zoptic Special Effects System”. Whatever that means.

Wow, and what a litany of “stars”. Our hero, Ace Hunter (oh, brother!) is played by a post-Rocky Horror Picture Show, pre-Spin City Barry Bostwick. This is the interval known to his fans as the “Fallow Period.” Our female lead is the personable Persis Khambatta, immortally known as “the Bald Chick from Star Trek: The Motion Picture”. Also joining us are Edward Mulhare, David Hasselhoff’s boss from Knight Rider, and “Henry Silva as Guerera”. Silva’s the heavy in about a million movies. He’s the guy you get when Richard Lynch isn’t available. Some of the names themselves just seem goofy. The “music” is by Jerrold Immel (!). The Associate Producer is David Shamroy Hamburger (!!) (“I’ll have that with fries and a shake.”). One of the editors is S. Skip Schoolnik. If he admits to the “Skip”, I’m not sure I want to know what the “S.” stands for. Finally, we’re told that the film was “Produced by Albert S. Ruddy”. If that’s “ruddy” as in “red-faced”, I’m not surprised in the least.

Our picture begins. Actually, it began with a pre-credit title card (which is also read aloud, for the film’s large contingent of illiterate fans). It informs us that MegaForce is “a phantom army of super elite fighting men whose weapons are the most powerful science can devise.” As we shall see, that’s not a factual statement, on any number of points. Just to give you an idea of what we have here, MegaForce is supposed to be a light-hearted, satiric yet exciting action film. In other words, it wants to have its cake and eat it too. This kind of thing is notoriously hard to pull off. And MegaForce is a lot closer to the Doc Savage end of the spectrum than the Adventures of Buckaroo Bonzai end.

We open on a poorly exposed night shot. A small group of hostages is being lectured to by a “comical”, long-winded Commie type. He’s tediously reading a long speech out of a grade school notebook, punctuation and all. Hey, let me try! “This movie sucks. Exclamation point.” Guerera, leader of a bunch of battle tank driving mercenaries, looks bored. This is “funny”. Finally, Guerera shuts the guy up and orders his rather unimposing line of tanks to open fire on a really bad model of a petrol refinery (or power plant, or whatever it is). The model work is so bad that when the main building is hit, we can see that it doesn’t have any interior walls or flooring. Their work accomplished, Silva’s force withdraws.

Guerera’s tanks are approaching the border of Sandoon, the country he’s just attacked, heading for the safety of Gambia. Actually, the inept sound work and lousy accents of the film’s players made it impossible for me to decipher the names of either the warlike or the peaceful country. Not that it really matters in the least. So for the purpose of this review I’ll designate the “good country” as Sandoon, and the “bad country” as Gambia. If anyone really cares enough to correct me on this, please do so and I’ll revise the review later.

A Sandoonian armored division appears and launches an attack on Guerera’s fleeing unit. An Armored Personnel Carrier (or something) is destroyed, but Guerera’s forces make it over the border. The Sandoonian officer-in-charge radios General Byrne-White (Mulhare), requesting permission to cross the border. The General grants it, but is countermanded by the beautiful Major Zara, daughter of Sandoon’s president. Given that Guerera’s crossed the border and attacked Sandoon four different times — thank you, expository dialog — it’s difficult to believe that there’d be a legitimate reason for not pursuing them. Besides, it hardly makes Guerera look like a Supervillain when he only avoids destruction by running back across a border. Especially since he seemed to be caught utterly by surprise by the enemy force. Which was a line of tanks approaching Guerera’s position over flat desert terrain. How is it even possible he didn’t see them? This is the threat that requires the mighty MegaForce?

A plane lands, somewhere. Byrne-White and Zara deplane, dressed in civilian garb. They climb into a black Rolls Royce (way too nice of a car to be in this movie) and are driven off. To Byrne-White’s exaggerated dismay, they are dropped off in the middle of the desert. Zara, however, looks entirely nonplussed. Pulling her red dress up over her knees to afford the audience a good look at her gams (after the camera runs slowly up her body so that we don’t miss anything), she sits down on a rock and waits. Byrne-White, however, has a long “comic” scene in which he complains in sputtering fashion over this bizarre treatment. Boy, that guy’s a real stuffed shirt, huh? Ha ha!

Just to illustrate how much effort they expended on continuity, let me mention a shot where Byrne-White is leaning on the car. His arm is clearly seen resting on the top of the open door. Then they cut to a different angle and his arm’s at his side. This level of sloppiness on the filmmakers’ behalf does not exactly bode well for the audience.

Byrne-White continues blustering, because it’s “amusing”. Zara fixes her makeup (!). Soon a rattlesnake is seen slithering towards them. Why, if it gets any closer it might even appear in the same shot with one of them! Luckily, before this can happen, shots ring out and the snake is snuffed. Their savior approaches. The sharp-eyed among the audience might notice that, from where he’s approaching, the angle of the shot we saw was impossible. Wearing jeans, a “Skoal” chewing tobacco T-shirt and a cowboy hat, the fellow identifies himself as Dallas. Because, he’s like a cowboy. Get it? When he identifies himself as a member of MegaForce, Byrne-White demands his rank. “Rank?”, he drawls. “Why ain’t nobody got a rank in MegaForce, ‘cept the Commander, but we all call him Hunter!” Yeah, that sounds like a brilliant set-up for a paramilitary group, all right. Chain of Command?! Who needs it?!

Byrne-White continues belaboring the “blustering stuffed shirt” bit. Apparently somebody really thought this was hilarious. And believe me, nothing’s more deadening than ‘comedy’ that isn’t funny. (See any Pauly Shore or Police Academy movie for further evidence.) Looking at the tightly clad Major Zara, Dallas tells her that she’s the “kind of officer that makes bivouacking in the woods seem downright desirable!” Instead of kicking him in the groin, Zara reacts like the remark was clever and charming. Boy, this is going to be a loooong movie.

Futuristic Weaponry!Awesome Action!

Dallas grabs the lady’s bags. Byrne-White, meanwhile, assumes an annoyed look because he’s got to carry his own luggage. Again, this is “humorous”. They are then led them to a nearby 4×4. Given that it’s parked roughly ten yards from where the two were sitting, it’s sort of hard to believe that they didn’t notice its approach. The truck has some kind of yellow (!) gun, presumably a laser or some other cool “ray” weapon, mounted on top. When Byrne-White asks if they couldn’t have arranged more comfortable circumstances for the meeting, Dallas replies, “Sure!” Speaking to the driver of the truck, Dallas orders a “four dash seven”. Suddenly, a nearby boulder is replaced with a hologram of a girl on a beach. Hawaiian music fills the air. How this hologram was projected from their truck, particularly in the full glare of the desert sun — wouldn’t that disrupt what is, after all, a projection of light? — is presumably just supposed to be taken for granted. Even so, how, pray tell, do they get sound to emanate from the hologram?!

Inside the truck, the driver identifies himself as Zachary Taylor. Because he’s black, Byrne-White asks if the music on his headphones is Gladys Knight and the Pipps (!). Instead of kicking Byrne-White in the groin, Taylor just smiles and answers “Vivaldi.” Of course, having a black character defy an obvious ethnic stereotype is itself rather a, well, stereotype. But I guess we’re not supposed to think that hard about it. Our group begins the next stage of their journey, driving their truck through the desert.

We cut to the command center, which has the generic look of a James Bond villain’s secret base. The staff is tracking Dallas’ truck, when suddenly a big wavy line appears on the main viewscreen. This apparently indicates an “intruder” alert (?). Taylor stops the truck, waiting for confirmation on the bogie. Back at command, a technician looks at a graph representing the intruder (wouldn’t cameras be easier?) and deems it an armadillo (!). “Judging by his speed,” the techie continues, “I’d say he’s had a pretty hard night. I envy him!” Me, too. Armadillos don’t watch movies like this one.

Taylor, waiting in the truck, begins quoting Shakespeare’s MacBeth (man, that’s one stereotype breaking black dude, huh!) “Should I wade no more, returning were as tedious as go’ for.” In spite of the fact that this is to portray Taylor’s erudition, the actor reads the line like he were reciting a fortune cookie slip. And believe me, Zach, in this case to “go’ for” is much more tedious than wading no more. The all clear signal is given, and our group resumes their journey. You know, to go back a bit, is it really useful to calibrate your instruments to such a degree that the appearance of a strolling armadillo in the desert sets off an alarm? Wouldn’t this result in an awful lot of wasted time? (Next week on “MegaForce”: The Gila Monster!)

The truck stops again. Byrne-White continues to act impatient (me too!). Zach instructs him to listen, and sure enough, a driving disco beat soon starts up. We cut to a confusing montage of helmets, badges and motorcycle parts. When we finally cut to a longer perspective, we see why they had this montage. Because when you get a proper look, it’s just three guys in goofy costumes (skintight tan satiny bodysuits accessorized with blue silk scarves [!]) riding extremely silly “attack” motorcycles. The “target session” begins. Random explosions occur ahead of the riders. If they’re to teach evasive maneuvering, then why do the three guys stay in tight formation? Actually, I think they’re just supposed to look “cool”.

Meanwhile, the bikers use the machine guns and missiles (!) mounted on their bikes to take out balloons floating above, which then burst into flames. Fire and smoke fill the screen as the music pounds away. This is all lovingly filmed, complete with the obligatory slo-mo shots, and is obviously supposed to be an action “showcase”. But it just…looks…stupid. Finally, having proven that the base is adequately protected not only from armadillos but from petroleum filled balloons as well, the bikers break off.

But wait! The action’s not over yet! As the startled Byrne-White and Zara cringe (me too, but not for the same reason), one of the riders jumps over their truck in a “spectacular” slow motion shot. “That’s the boss!”, Taylor grins. Yeah, this MegaForce thing is looking better all the time. Dismounting from the bike, the rider removes his helmet. With his big, feathered hairstyle and beard, Bostwick is a dead ringer for Barry Gibb. Actually, given his tan bodysuit and tightly rolled baby blue headband, he’s like a more effeminate Barry Gibb. Still, when you’re the leader of a macho group like MegaForce, I guess you can look as fey as you like. Why, if anyone says anything, you just fire a missile from your motorbike and burst ’em like a big ol’ balloon, dude!

Welcome to ABC Election Watch. And now, commentary by George WillCareful! You almost fell into that matte painting!Megaforce! The only paramilitary organization with Three Star dining included.

Hunter introduces himself to Byrne-White, then “checks out” Zara. “Target sighted,” MegaForce member Suki grins, “and closing!” Ha ha, the earthy humor of the military man. Suki, by the way, is the designated “Asian” MegaForcer. There are, of course, one of each of a variety of ethic groups included in the group (a French guy, a Russian (?!), a Hispanic, a Black guy, etc.). Zara disses our man Hunter, noting that, “I hope your plan reflects greater precision than we have seen so far.” Unfortunately, she doesn’t explain if she’s referring only to the balloon exploding skills they’ve exhibited, or rather the movie as a whole. Also, I don’t know if it’s just the accent she’s affecting, but Khambatta’s line delivery here is extremely stilted. Zara continues to rag him out, resulting in the following “feisty” dialog:

Hunter: “Well, there are reasons for everything that we do, Major.”
Zara: “And do they include leaving your guests to bake in the middle of the desert, greeted by a cowboy, and be attacked by wild creatures?!”
Hunter, get a little hot under the collar: “Well, if it’s a comfortable tour you’re looking for, I have connections: at Disney Land!”

Suki, from the sidelines: “Target destroyed!”

This is, by the way, pretty much the “wittiest” exchange in the movie. The real horror hits when you realize that this “banter” is meant to emulate the great screwball comedies. But we’re a long, looong way from William Powell and Myrna Loy or Katherine Hepburn and Cary Grant. After a little more extremely desultory badinage (which I will spare you), everybody heads off for base. Hunter and Dallas also engage in a little “whimsical” repartee regarding the snake that Dallas killed. I will spare you this as well (for which you should indeed be thankful), other than to note that Dallas humorously refers to the snake as a “no-shoulders”. OK, are you all done laughing yet?

Continuing on to headquarters, Byrne-White and Dallas further display their “talent” for banter. This allows Dallas to spout off some putatively “down-home” country vernacular. MegaForce’s research chief, The Egg, is described as having “more degrees than a red hot thermometer!” The Egg (gee, is he an “egghead” or something) is the fellow who designed the “awesome” fighting motorcycles we just got a gander at. “He’s been cluckin’ over those things like a mother hen, ever since he hatched ’em on his sliiide – rule!” To the pure imbecility of the lines, add the excruciating annoyance of listening to actor Michael Beck’s molasses thick “Texas accent”. By this point, you can’t help noting that the film’s “comedy” isn’t anywhere near as funny as its “action”.

They arrive at the generic carved out mountain fortress that serves as MegaForce’s secret headquarters. Apparently never having seen a James Bond movie, Zara and the General are greatly impressed. “Here comes ‘The Egg'”, Dallas grins, “and that’s no yolk!” However, The Egg quickly proves Dallas’ master at the wry retort. “Dallas,” he replies, “when a person doesn’t have less on, they have…?” “More on?”, comes the inevitable reply. “Exactly!”, finishes The Egg, administrating the crushing coup de grace. At this point, Dallas realizes that he’s been “burned”. Hunter asks for an progress update on “it”. In fact, it turns out, “it” is being tested right at that moment. Hunter beams with anticipation. Hey, maybe “it” is the end of the movie! That would be exciting.

Hunter then leads his guests on a tour. First up is a matte painting of the base’s “lower levels”. This is so “majestic” that Byrne-White gasps, “It puts the Pyramids to shame!” (!!!!) Frankly, it doesn’t even put the $100,000 Pyramid to shame. They then get into one of those little golf cart jobbies that all secret bases come equipped with, and tour some more matte paintings and sets. All while we are forced to listen to mendacious gobbledygook regarding what a technological miracle the base is. This is meant to impress us, although ultimately you end up thinking how much cooler the Batcave was on the old Batman TV show. Still, uninspired or not, you can tell this is where they wasted a major portion of the film’s $20 million budget. Which was an extremely large movie budget back in 1982.

In the main weapons hanger, we see everything from military helicopters to missiles to the film’s own goofily painted vehicles (the previously seen motorcycles, land rovers, etc.). Byrne-White is amazed to see the “latest” in Russian technology, as well as stuff still on the drawing board. It turns out that MegaForce is supplied by all the leaders of the Free World (Russia?! In 1983??), who provide cutting-edge weaponry as well as the finest of soldiers. Ripping off Mission Impossible, we learn that the men are written off as dead by their respective countries, creating the “phantom army” that is MegaForce. These leaders then decree when MegaForce is to go into “action”.

Actually, you would think having one country’s integrated weapons systems, rather than a piecemeal fleet of machinery from all different countries, would be more efficient. And is it really expedient to keep missiles, aircraft and land weaponry all in one hanger? And how come the only hardware we see deployed in this movie is the goofy stuff designed for this film? Is it because the rest of the material was only rented for this one scene? As a side note, we see now why Bostwick’s bodysuit comes accessorized with a (useless) belt. It’s so he can have something to tuck his gloves into. This looks unimaginatively prissy.

Speaking of fashion, we cut to Zara in her gigantic, yet tasteless, guest quarters. She’s primping up in a mirror, undoubtedly so as to look her best for super-masculine wonderguy Ace Hunter. Hey, it’s weird, but even though they’re always arguing, I think that they’re really secretly attracted to one another. Man, what a cunning, unexpected plot device, huh? Somebody beeps her room to announce their presence, like on Star Trek. Why, it’s Commander Hunter! Hunter’s now changed into a suit that looks like something Captain Nemo might wear, had he been played by Don Knotts. It includes a flap that pulls down from the neck (revealing that the lining of his suit is a tasteful orange), so as to feature his baby blue silk cravat. He looks at Zara, who’s now attired in a khaki military uniform. “Well, you look great!”, he purrs. Apparently, he didn’t notice this when she was earlier wearing that slinky red skintight dress. Or maybe he just has a “thing” for uniforms. Hey, then maybe you guys should wear some!

Hunter and Zara engage in some inane “suggestive” dialog. So hideous in fact that I can’t even bear to provide any examples. Well, OK. Here’s one: after Hunter looks at Zara’s medals and ribbons, she notes that she’s at a disadvantage (why, because you can’t act? Don’t worry, honey, you fit right in). Hunter isn’t wearing his medals, so she can’t analyze him back. “I didn’t say you can tell everything about a soldier by looking…at his chest,” he suavely replies. “Or hers?”, she saucily replies. Get it? They’re not really talking about looking at Zara’s ribbons. They’re actually referring to her breasts! Are we all on the same page here?

By the way, this dialog is obviously meant to be not only sexy (strike one!), but sophisticated (strike two!). A sophisticated ipecac maybe. Anyway, it’s getting so “hot” in there that they decide to split before “something happens.” In fact, when their hands meet when reaching for the door switch, well, it’s amazing that they didn’t just rip their clothes off right then and there. To be fair, though, this scene actually manages to generate quite a lot of erotic tension (Sarcasm Alert!).

Meanwhile, Dallas and The Egg have been giving Byrne-White the nickel tour. For instance, those goofy looking assault trucks prove to have a “stealth nose”. This involves having an “inverse photosensitive skin”. That causes coated materials (which include all MegaForce vehicles, weapons and uniforms) to assume the surrounding colors, like a chameleon. Then they show off their master computer, with which they monitor “every conversation in every military installation in the world. Hostile and friendly.” Including the General and Zara’s, apparently, but I guess they don’t mind.

This surveillance gear actually rivals that of the good St. Nick (see my review of Santa Claus). The one conversation we hear is from China, as a guy calls his wife to inform her he’s picking up “American Food” for dinner. Ha ha, get it? He’s Chinese, and he’s picking up American food? And wow, doesn’t it show that we’re really all alike, after all? (Lordy.) They store every one of these conversations in the computer’s data banks. Speaking as a onetime Naval Reservist, I’d guess they tend to record quite a few conversations featuring the words “beer” and “dick”, among other favorites.

I guess the filmmakers figured they could get away with such impossible equipment because the movie’s a “satire”. You’d think that by now people would “get” that satire works best when it slices like a scalpel, not bludgeons like a mallet, but apparently not. Wouldn’t a system that allowed them to eavesdrop on any one conversation be silly enough, without them monitoring “every conversation in every military installation in the world”? Would any of their sponsor nations really allow them to monitor (spy on, really) their own militaries? Or let them assemble a outrageously detailed dossier on every important person in the world, including MegaForce’s “bosses”? One would think not.

Ace Hunter es muy macho!Hunter and Guerera-The best of friends! The worst of enemies!

When Byrne-White asks to access Guerera’s file, Hunter begins spewing it out verbally. Later, at dinner (in MegaForce’s amazingly ritzy dining facilities), Hunter explains. It turns out that he once worked with Guerera, and they were in fact the best of friends. (Wow, the Cliché-o-meterâ„¢ is reading off the scale!) Guerera was once the bravest of soldiers, but betrayed by cowardly politicians (like the ones who fund MegaForce, I guess), he became a mercenary, selling his skills to the highest bidder. Gee, wouldn’t it have been even more original if Guerera was Hunter’s brother or something?

Hunter goes on to report that once, after a shared bender, he had almost convinced Guerera to hook up with MegaForce. To illustrate this point, he holds up a MegaForce logo-d cigarette lighter (gee, were they intending to market those after the film’s triumphant box office performance? If so, that would explain why no one’s ever seen one). Instead of joining, Guerera stole his lighter. Ha ha. Oh, and remember this bit, as I’m sure we’ll see that lighter later in the movie. Needless to say, this attempt at characterization fails woefully, since you generally need actual characters to characterize.

In the sumptuously appointed briefing room (say, this movie could use some “briefing”), Hunter lays out Operation “Hook, Line and Sinker”, their plan to get Guerera. Actually, Operation Hoof From This Stinker would be more valuable for everyone involved here, but I guess they all signed contracts and everything. To cut a very long “briefing” short, they plan to get Guerera to cross the border, and then they will attack him. Brilliant!! This is illustrated with a hologram projecting table rather than a boring old map. Wowsers!

This plan is elaborate to a lunatic degree, but after watching this straight through twice, I think this is the gist: MegaForce will make a land incursion into Guerera’s host country, attacking his secondary supply base. Then they’ll arrange for Guerera’s forces to follow them back into Zara’s country, where Byrne-White can take them out. The plan is staked out minute by minute. Anybody who knows any military history will agree that preparing a battle plan down to the minute is, to say the least, demented.

Also noticeably absent is any use of air support, other than to drop off those goofball motorcycles and such. Wouldn’t the logical way to attack an armored force that has no air support be with an air strike? I mean, a squadron of attack helicopters could knock Guerera’s entire unit out without breaking a sweat. When the briefing is concluded, Byrne-White notes that the table hologram was the best they’d seen yet. So Dallas activates his favorite hologram, a cartoon pig. Oh. I’m sorry. The cartoon pig is supposed to be “comedy relief”. Although “relief” from this movie’s “comedy” would be more appreciated. It should be noted that, although the cartoon pig is woefully unfunny, he manages in his short appearance to give the film’s best performance.

Zara then drops a (all too predictable) bombshell: she intends to join MegaForce on its mission. This is, needless to say, a stupid notion for any number of logistical reasons, but, you know, it’s a movie (sort of). Hunter objects that, no offense, it’s unlikely that she meets the super soldiering status of MegaForce, the world’s premiere martial body. More to the point would be that she hasn’t trained with them, and that you obviously don’t just insert someone, no matter how talented, into a tightly knit team mere days before an elaborate operation. Nor, for that matter, has she trained on MegaForce highly specialized (if ludicrous) weaponry. But, of course, if he raised these objections, then she couldn’t just say “Try me!”, “prove” that she’s as good as any of them, and force Hunter to take her with.

First up is a parachute jump. Hunter explains the drill in insulting detail, then he and Dallas watch in amazement as she calmly jumps from the plane. (Does it make sense that the Commander and apparent First Officer of a group like MegaForce would have the time to conduct her training personally? Don’t they have any, you know, duties?) Hunter then jumps out, and in one of the movie’s most grotesque sequences, conducts some air acrobatics with the Major (not like that, you dirty minded…), as “romantic” music blares forth.

As you might expect, this is portrayed with doubles doing the air stunts intercut with horribly “realized” shots of the actors hanging on wires in front of a bluescreen. Oh, and the music is really just appalling, the kind of stuff that makes you pray that they’ll segue into “Muskrat Love” instead. Then our lovebirds to be land safely, crushing the audience’s fondest hopes. But Zara not done yet, as she asks to pilot the helicopter that comes for them. Gee, at this rate Hunter will have to let her go on the mission (duh).

The romantic Thumb Ritual begins...and ends.

Next up, Zara tests her skill at a simulation of missile bearing dune buggies attacking main battle tanks (!). This requires pushing a button when your “buggy” is facing a tank, at which point it’s presumed destroyed. All in all, the test appears to require a great less ability than is required to reach the second level of Ms. Pacman. After the test is completed, and Zara has “achieved” a “perfect score” (big whoop), the lights in the simulator room come up. This is unfortunate, as we can now see not only Zara cartoony black catsuit (complete with ample cleavage available for inspection) and red silk scarf, but also Bostwick’s latest satiny skintight jumper, a silver model.

Hunter now apologizes to her, explaining that he’s still not going to take her with them. He just assumed that she’d screw up and save him the trouble of turning her down (!). It’s nice to know that a group like MegaForce has a leader willing to make the tough calls. In a nearly sacrilegious shot, Hunter and Zara stand silhouetted against a colored background. I believe this is meant to recall a similar scene with Debbie Reynolds and Gene Kelly in Singing in the Rain. If so, just let me add that IT’S NOT WORKING!!! Hunter now (finally) explains that MegaForce is a group that has trained together, and that adding an unknown element at this stage in the operation would risk disaster. Well, duh.

He also explains this at great length, although Zara supposedly has a military background and would presumably know all this (which is why she never should have asked to be included in the first place). After hearing this brilliant speech, Zara replies that his concern for his men is “what makes you what you are. A great leader.” (!!) She in no way exhibits any anger or frustration at being jerked around for the last three days. Instead, she appears relieved that he didn’t turn her down only because she’s a woman. Hey, Zara, does the word “doormat” ring any bells?

The word is given: Operation Hook, Line and Sinker is a go (aren’t you just trembling with excitement?). We now see why Hunter’s bodysuit really has that belt. It’s so he can hang his motorcycle helmet and three hand grenades off of it (his complete complement of gear, other than his gloves). He and Byrne-White leave a really poor matte painting of a hanger door cut into a mountain. Out by his transport plane, Hunter looks around. Sure enough, Zara pops up for a “meaningful” farewell scene. “Even though I’m not going,” she oozes, “I’m glad I came this far.” “So am I,” Hunter wittily replies. Obviously, neither of these characters speaks for any audience members that might still be awake.

Zara kisses Hunter, and then he’s off. Bostwick awkwardly swings from a strut to enter the cargo bay, looking like a failed applicant for a pole dancing position at a strip club. Then the film’s oddest trademark is introduced: Zara and Hunter take turns kissing a thumb and then thrusting it out to one another (?!). This is not only stupid looking, but so weird as to actually be a little creepy. Thankfully, the planes take off. This is supposed to be exciting of course, but is anything but. In particular, the scene is undercut by further awful music. This film is definitely, among all its other problems, a contender for the worst scored movie of all time. On the trip, Dallas has trouble going over plans because Hunter is mooning over Zara (this, after wasting the last three days overseeing Zara’s “training”). This drama is then wisely counterpointed with the following “comedy relief”:

Dallas: “Well, I know how you feel, and I’ve been there myself. Let me see. One time before I made a jump into the night, an old buddy of mine told me something that made me a whole lot better.” [Pauses, creating a “comic” anticipation.] Hunter, finally cracking: “What? What, what what did he tell you?”
Dallas: “Well, he said, ‘You love ’em in blue and you love them in red. But most of all you them in blue.'”
Hunter, after staring in a “humorous” fashion: “That’s totally inapplicable to anything that’s going on here. And it’s dumb. Who told you that?”
Dallas [delivering the punchline]: “You did!”
Hunter, saving face: “But it’s very wise. Very wise.”

OK, take a moment to stop laughing before you continue. Are you ready now? Sure? OK. We cut to the rear of the plane to visit with the other MegaForcers. This is the opportunity for yet more humorous antics. One guy, after a month’s work on a Rubic’s Cube (wow, way to instantly date your flick), gives up in exasperation. Zach Taylor then asks for it (gee, I see a “punchline” coming). One guy, who at first I thought was Russian but then decided was French (yes, the “accents” are that good) explains that “all Americans are strange”. Two other guys, one concentrating on a crossword puzzle, toss a knife back and forth, accompanied by wacky “whooshing” noises (again, this is “funny”). Back to the first group, Taylor tosses back the completed Rubic’s Cube, to the chagrin of its owner. More “comedy” follows, including a bit where Hunter gets airsick (ha, ha, ’cause he’s normally so macho, get it?). Still, I’m more humane than the filmmakers, so I’ll spare you further “merriment”. Mercifully, the group arrives at the target coordinates, ending the scene.

We cut to a bad matte painting of a desert ghost town. It’s Guerera’s base, and we see him playing chess with his employer, The Colonel. He sends his “boss” off to get him some booze, then rearranges the board to ensure his victory. Wow, now we know that Guerera is willing to do anything, even cheat, in order to win. I’ll bet our hero, Ace Hunter, would never stoop so low! Now the film’s first major action setpiece begins. Each man, on his bike or in his dune buggy, parachutes with his vehicle from the transport planes (!). Oh, yeah, that’s much more efficient than landing the planes and letting the vehicles drive off.

This attack scene is comparatively good (and pay attention to that modifier), if only because they can’t insert much “comedy” while they’re blowing stuff up. Of course, some of this, like the dune buggies that fire laser beams (!), is pretty silly. And the missiles that are fired from the motorbikes are obviously not heading in the direction of the explosions they “cause”. In other words, the motorcycles will be seen firing at a target directly in front of them. The missiles will then skew radically off to the side, yet the target will explode. And there are the film’s obligatory “not totally convincing” exploding miniatures. Having gained Guerera’s attention, MegaForce heads out.

Megaforce...striking boredom in the hearts of moviegoers everywhere!You will believe a motorcycle can fly! (Please? C'mon! We did the best we could...)

As daylight breaks, we see MegaForce heading towards their airdropped supply depot to gas up and rearm. The Colonel has followed them as per Guerera’s orders. Dallas spots him, and to play a little joke on him (a very little joke), starts up that “girl on the beach” hologram from earlier in the movie. Ha ha. Meanwhile, Byrne-White and Zara get some disturbing news. They head out in Byrne-White’s helicopter to (presumably) find and alert Hunter of their mysterious info. Gee, guys, wouldn’t a radio transmission be more efficient?

Aa medical helicopter shows up at the supply depot. Guerera pops out, and he and Hunter greet each other with a manly hug (awwww!). Of course, Hunter could just arrest Guerera right here, but you know, the rules of combat and all that. There’s some wacky huggermugger over the lighter that Guerera had stolen from Hunter (remember? Well, don’t worry about it). Then Byrne-White and Zara land. Although surprised to see Guerera on hand, they relay their bad news to Hunter. Somehow, the attack got traced back to Sandoon (letting Guerera see the leaders of the Sandoonian armed forces in MegaForce’s camp probably isn’t helping). If they allow MegaForce to cross the border out of Gambia into Sandoon, war will be officially declared. OK, could somebody please explain to me how they could not be at war already. Wouldn’t the consistent incursions by Guerera’s forces in Sandoon constitute an act of war? This all makes no sense whatsoever, but the plot point has been established: MegaForce is trapped in Gambia.

Hunter has a heartfelt moment with Zara, telling her, despite all odds, that he’ll make their date the next day. Then they do that thumb-kissing thing and she departs. Guerera informs Hunter that he knows that they’re only one place that the MegaForce airlifts can land now for pickup: the “Dry Lake”. Of course, helicopters could land anywhere in the desert. MegaForce could simply destroy their equipment and evacuate their personnel, but this is never mentioned. So for the purposes of the movie, Hunter and his men can only be evacuated from the Dry Lake. And Guerera’s already got his armor there to intercept them.

For old times sake, Guerera offers to get Hunter out of the country if he abandons his men. Hunter refuses (duh), setting up one of those smug little party line Hollywood attacks on the Reagan era. Guerera explains that in the ’70s, they could afford to be idealists, but now (you know, in the evil, greedy Reagan ’80s) it’s all about money. Hunter strongly disagrees. Of course, if Hunter was really a ’70s style idealist, MegaForce would consist of a cadre of guys taking bong hits, groovin’ to Jefferson Airplane and rapping about Flower Power. Admittedly, that’s an outrageous stereotype, but no less sophisticated than the “Reagan years were about Greed” line. And the general hypocrisy of using an expensive Hollywood commercial flick (well, that’s what they thought this would be) to attack the “greed” basis of Capitalism is readily obvious and annoying. But what do you expect in the philosophy department from the man who made Cannonball Run II?

Conferring with Egg back at headquarters, Hunter has come up with a plan that just might work. Guerera’s armored unit on the Dry Lake is arranged with mountains to their back, covering the only supposed entrance with their guns. A MegaForce satellite has found, however, a possible trail through the mountains to Guerera’s rear. Using their equipment’s “silent mode” (gee, that’s convenient), they might be able to sneak up on Guerera, punch a hole through his forces (again, about a whole fourteen tanks), and make it to the planes and take off in the confusion.

The plan set, the planes in and fly directly in front of Guerera’s crack armor squad. Flying slowly a hundred yards right in front of the line of tanks, the planes manage to avoid being hit by any of the tanks’ main cannon or machine guns. Finally, one of the planes takes a direct cannon hit, which oddly doesn’t utterly destroy the plane, but instead forces it to disengage. They will have to scuttle their equipment and evacuate the men on the remaining plane. Meanwhile, MegaForce begins its attack to Guerera’s rear.

In spite of the fact that we were told that the situation was desperate, MegaForce fires enough missiles and laser blasts to destroy five or six times as many tanks as Guerera has. Which, although they try to hide the fact with camera angles, isn’t many. In a particularly gratuitous moment, we see Hunter arc his motorcycle into the air (good thing Guerera apparently provided ramps for this purpose) and drop a grenade into an open hatchway of a tank. Considering the large explosion that results, this must have been a fusion grenade or something.

In spite of the fact that we saw about three tanks destroyed for every one that Guerera had, his entire line turns to pursue the MegaForce vehicles after they have punched through. To keep the tanks from firing on the remaining evacuation plane, the cycles start spewing multicolored spumes of smoke to blind Guerera’s forces. This is lovingly filmed with helicopter shots, and looks fully as stupid as they apparently thought it would look “cool”. Hunter falls off his bike. Gasp! Will our hero perish?

Of course not (sigh!). In fact, he stops to knock on the top of Guerera’s tank, lost in the smoke, and say good-bye. However, the transport plane has already left the ground. Now Hunter reveals the new secret development on the MegaForce motorcycles: a jet propulsion system that makes them fly (!). Hunter flies to the airborne plane and lands inside the cargo bay door. This lengthy sequence is achieved (actually, that’s not quite the word) with some really, really, really bad bluescreen work.

We cut to Byrne-White’s base, where in a press conference he’s denying all knowledge of the incursion into Gambia. Just then the transport plane flies by. Uh, wouldn’t this compromise the “no knowledge” statement Byrne-White just gave to the reporters? Then, is a petty display, Hunter blows up Byrne-White’s personal helicopter to get back at the “don’t cross our border” thing. This is supposed to be jocular. A laughing Zara does the thumb-kissing thing to Hunter, who returns the gesture. Of course, the plane is flying about two miles up, and it would be impossible for them to see each other, but what’s one last logical lapse for the road. And that’s it except for the credits. Instead of the usual “comical outtakes” Needham always featured during the credits of his Burt Reynolds’ flicks, here we just see reruns of the “exciting” parts. And so the film ends as it began: pointlessly. Still, as long as it ends…

  • ginbot

    Seems they actually did sell some “merchandising” for the Movie. If you click the link, you’ll see these great items:

    that ugly APC (armored personal carrier) deal
    a Megaforce dune buggy.
    a black dune buggy that is not at all the same as above buggy
    What sort of looks like an M1A1. Though, with Megaforce’s ultra cool connections, I am surprised it isn’t a T60.
    and the ultimate in prized military vehicles: a Ford Bronco
    Megaforce Die-Cast Cars

  • Don’t forget they made an Atari 2600 game based on the film. You control a motorcycle sprite that flies around and shoots at things. It’s pretty unmemorable.