The Delta Force (1986, Cannon Films)
Okay, in reference to the title of this post, Norris and Marvin aren’t the only members of the team but it still sounds like a pretty cool tagline for the movie, right? As a fan of 1980s action movies, I’ve been aware of the Delta Force series (not to be confused with the Operation Delta Force series) for a very long time but it wasn’t until just yesterday I actually sat down to watch the first entry into the series thanks to Netflix.
Despite his status as a pop culture icon for people who have probably never even see one of his movies (I mean, seriously, if the guy is so popular why did so many of his movies bomb?), I’m going to go against the grain and say I’m not a huge fan of Chuck Norris. He’s waffled between B-movies and C-movies throughout his career. Some of them were enjoyable but I’ve yet to a Norris movie that I would deem “great”. That said, this is another decent entry into his filmography but The Delta Force is certainly not a “Chuck Norris movie”, it’s an action movie that just happens to star Chuck Norris. In other words, he isn’t forced to carry the movie and while he certainly gets the most face time of any single character (well, besides the main villain) the plot doesn’t really revolve around his character. This is a good thing because let’s face it, Chuck Norris never really got a hold of the whole “acting” thing. Even when he does have lines in this movie, they’re pretty horrendous. I laughed out loud at his one line when they stormed the plane during a training session. He’s just so wooden but I can’t blame him totally because it’s not like he wrote these lines (I don’t think).
Anyway, getting back to the whole “this isn’t a Chuck movie” thing, there’s a number of “name” actors peppered throughout the film. Of course, there’s Lee Marvin but there’s also Bo Svenson, American Ninja‘s Steve James, Shelley Winters, Robert Vaughan, George Kennedy, Lainie Kazan, Joey Bishop, Martin Balsam and playing the role as the lead terrorist Abdul — Robert Forster. I knew the guy playing Abdul looked familiar, I just couldn’t place him until I looked the movie up online.
The movie took great inspiration from the 1985 hijacking of TWA Flight 847 (almost to the point where it feels like exploitation) and much of the first part of the movie is focused on the two main terrorists and the passengers. So it’s kind of an odd movie in that the first half has somewhat of a sensationalized “TV movie of the week” feel to it and then the second half morphs into the typical Reagan-era fantasy action movie fare. I guess the second half of the movie is how we wanted the real hijacking to turn out.
For my tastes, at 2 hours and 9 minutes, the movie was a bit long. I’m a firm supporter of movies going 90 to 105 minutes tops. The movie drags at times but I did like that just when you think things are about to wrap up, there’s one more hurdle for the Delta Force to jump. Overall, I think this movie is slightly above average when compared to most of Cannon’s output. It seems a bit more broader in scope like they were really trying to make an A-list action film instead of the usual substandard releases they usually pumped out.
I recommend it for B-movie action junkies but this isn’t a movie I would ever watch again. That said, I already added Delta Force 2: The Columbian Connection to my Netflix queue! I don’t really have much hope for it but since this is the last Delta Force movie to star Chuck (his son Mike has a role in the third and final movie), I’ll give it a shot.