Friday, April 15, 2016

Delta Force 2: Operation Stranglehold


   This is cinematic junk food of the best kind. It's brimming with shooting, explosions, and ridiculous one-liners. The villain is cartoonishly evil, and the only legitimately interesting thing about the movie is the heft of trivia behind it and it's complete disregard for real-world logic, politics, and policy. At least in movies like Rambo: First Blood Pt. II, an absolute paragon of 80's action-excess, the plot facilitated the absurdities on display. Of course, Delta Force 2 stars Chuck Norris. And, as you all well know, Chuck Norris doesn't follow the law... the law follows Chuck Norris. So I'm pretty sure international law does the same.

    As a action-spectacle, Delta Force 2 is just above average for it's kind. Because it's a Chuck Norris vehicle, and not staring an 'up and coming' nobody, there's a certain standard of quality to the explosive nonsense on display.  It might lack the absurd creativity of the first movie (dirt bikes that shoot missiles?) and it does trade in the unbridled patriotism for a more direct revenge aesthetic, but that doesn't mean it's any less enjoyable. In fact, once could say it's a better constructed movie than the first Delta Force was. See, the first movie was painfully at odds with itself.

   One half of The Delta Force was a tense and dramatic hostage situation, featuring gut wrenching and believable performances... the other half was ridiculous, over-the-top, ├╝ber-violent, patriotic, wish fulfillment. The two didn't quite seem to gel. And, most discerning critics preferred the parts of the movie without the delta force itself on display. Delta Force 2 doesn't have that problem. It's 110% action packed nonsense. There's no superior half of the movie at odds with it's base thrills and gratuitous violence. Delta Force 2 is devoid of any serious dramatic merit. I'm not saying that's a bad thing... I'm just saying that this isn't that kind of movie.

   Some good guys die so that Chuck can seek revenge for them. There's hostages so that Chuck can rescue them. There's bad guys so Chuck can shoot them, kick them, and in general- obliterate them. This movie is quite simply a Chuck Norris vehicle. It's another Missing in Action, for all intents and purposes. Chuck doesn't have to share the spotlight with anyone else really. Both Lee Marvin and Steve James are absent from this straightforward sequel, and it's a real loss. Their charisma alone would've raised this movie up a few degrees on the quality scale. As is, it could only ever qualify as a guilty pleasure. Again, not that there's anything wrong with that...

   Delta Force 2 is video store shelf fodder that aims only to entertain with an onslaught of slow motion action scenes, explosions, and cocksure yelling. We're reminded often that this isn't a one-man-army movie, as the rest of the delta force swoops in as Chuck's backup. They get sloppy seconds, whoever Chuck couldn't be bothered to shoot or kick to death. Credit where credit is due, it's all well choreographed chaos, with the faceless, black-clad, delta force soldiers facing off against the equally faceless bad guy henchmen- all decked out in white button-up shirts, and blue jeans. Bonus points if you can count how many have nearly identical mustaches too.

   The movie does have a genuine sense of humor at times, and it does make attempts at emotional sincerity, but Chuck is so aloof from anything not involving a gun, or a spin kick, that those elements of the movie get an A for effort, and little else. Overall though, I was thoroughly pleased with Delta Force 2. You could take everything I've written and use it as a critique against the movie, but the same write-up is chock full (Chuck full?) of reasons why I adore this kind of movie. It's mindless action fluff from an era where explosions, blood squibs, and death defying stunts all had to be performed in earnest- without the easy go-to of CGI. There's still something thrilling about seeing a superman like Chuck Norris take on the odds and defeat the bad guys. I hope that kind of thing never gets old to me.

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