Sunday, 6 November 2011



Back in the 1980s, Cannon absolutely ruled. Not only did they own a chain of British cinemas (including what are now the Cineworld Haymarket and Odeon Panton Street, and what WAS my local, the magnificent Granada Bedford, which was promptly bulldozed and eventually turned into a Lidl), but they were the specialists in action movies. Sure they produced and distributed art movies and foreign smut, and occasionally had a go at A-list Oscar bait (such as Runaway Train), but they will forever be associated with dumb B-movie actioners, frequently with Charles Bronson or Chuck Norris and invariably of the might-is-right, shoot-first variety, managing to make Dirty Harry look like a social worker.

The Golan half of Cannon's Golan-Globus - Menahem Golan - wasn't just the boss but he also wrote and directed as well (much as I loathe musicals, I really want to see The Apple), including this spectacular flag-waving nonsense in which filthy terrorist scum (led by Robert Forster with a standard issue Bastard Moustache and a shirt so red it hurts to look at it) hijack an American flight and redirect it to Beirut. Before they've issued any demands or terms of negotiation, Forster and his cohorts in the New World Revolution spirit away all the Jewish passengers (bafflingly including George Kennedy as a Catholic priest named Father O'Malley) to a secret dungeon. The Americans respond by sending in The Delta Force: their top commando badass squad led by Lee Marvin (in his last film appearance) and Chuck Norris, who'd retired from the Delta Force but literally turns up at the departure briefing on the off-chance he can tag along.

The first half of the movie is basically an Airport movie (hell, it's got George Kennedy in it) with name actors including Martin Balsam and Shelley Winters among the passengers; the second half is basically Team America: World Police as Chuck Norris and the Delta Force kill all the bad guys with awesome amounts of firepower and explosives - they even blow up a school which doesn't even have anyone left alive inside it! Shamelessly, crassly manipulative - there's a little girl on the flight, a pregnant woman, a survivor of the concentration camps - it's a film whose entire ethos is Chuck "Chuckles" Norris waving the Stars And Stripes in the face of filthy foreign anti-Western scum, and then either shooting them or firing rockets at them from his motorbike.

It's loosely based on the actual hijacking of TWA Flight 847 in June 1985 (the movie came out in 1986) although the Delta Force do not appear to have been involved at any point. At over two hours the movie could do with some trimming, but there are occasional pleasures to be had, including Alan Silvestri's synth score which is full of absurdly heroic fanfares against a thumping disco beat. As an exercise in crash-bang-wallop The Delta Force is not particularly well done - it's efficient but unremarkable - and as pro-West propaganda it's so thuddingly one-sided it's almost funny. It's certainly not very well written, but fans of thicko action movies and Norris' baseball bat acting style should get a few laughs.


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