A handsome but preposterous action adventure, INTO THE SUN must have sprung from a desperate story conference. It's an unholy union of TOP GUN and THE HARD WAY. If originality won wars, then this screenplay would be classified 4-F. The fun begins "somewhere over the Mediterranean Sea," where US fighter pilot Paul "Shotgun" Watkins (Michael Pare) and his...read more
A handsome but preposterous action adventure, INTO THE SUN must have sprung from a desperate story conference. It's an unholy union of TOP GUN and THE HARD WAY. If originality won wars, then this screenplay would be classified 4-F.
The fun begins "somewhere over the Mediterranean Sea," where US fighter pilot Paul "Shotgun" Watkins (Michael Pare) and his macho flyboy friends have a close encounter of the opening-credits kind with some unfriendly Mirage warplanes of a never-to-be-named foreign power. Back at the base Watkins
is given an unexpected ground assignment: callow Hollywood superstar Tom Slade (Anthony Michael Hall) has been cast in an armed forces picture and wants to tag along with a real Top Gunner to research his role. With the introduction of Slade, INTO THE SUN nearly takes off in a fresh, interesting
Initially the actor isn't the spoiled stumblebum one expects, but a friendly, if self-absorbed, dude to whom everything comes too easily. Before Watkins's unbelieving eyes, Slade instantly masters the computer flight simulator, proves immune to oxygen-deprivation in a pressure chamber, and even
starts to romance Major Goode (Deborah Maria Moore), a commanding officer with cover girl looks who happens to be Watkins's lover. The closest INTO THE SUN comes to honest emotion is when Watkins drops his stoic facade and laments, "You know what really gets me about Slade? He's good at everything
... he doesn't even really have to try."
There's a legitimate concept lurking here, derivative or not. How does an outside tinseltown personality like, for example, Tom Cruise get along with the real-life naval aviators he's supposed to play? But, as with THE HARD WAY, the contrast has no edge whatsoever because "reality" in this film
turns out to be as laughable as any celluloid fluff. Watkins takes Slade up in the air in an F-16 to humble the brat packer with aerial acrobatics. Suddenly that never-to-be-named foreign power attacks the American squadron, and Slade and Watkins get shot down in enemy territory. Slade instantly
devolves into a silly stereotype of a California pretty boy threatening to sue Watkins and griping about the lack of tanning lotion as the odd couple wander the wastelands.
The film flubs its chance at an award from the Arab Anti-Defamation League, as treacherous Bedouins capture the pair and hand them over to the hostage-hungry warlord and Yassir Arafat lookalike, but then the greedy nomads kidnap Slade back again because he's a star. Slade and his Arab Merry Men
rescue Watkins from execution, and the two Yanks blow up the nation-state's entire military infrastructure while escaping a nonstop, absolutely unbelievable fracas strongly reminiscent of 1991's parody HOT SHOTS. INTO THE SUN was in fact promoted as a comedy, but it's hard to tell at this level of
exaggeration. Some of the better bits: the avaricious Arab tribesman drive pickups and listen to Country and Western ballads, and while in their sandy clutches a nervous Slade leans over to Watkins and whispers, "My real name's Greenbaum!"
The picture does look good: its relatively modest $6 million budget is betrayed only by the skimpy homebase of the desert despot. Flight sequences are more exciting than usual for this breed, and were achieved using basic modelwork mixed with stock footage of the Peruvian Air Force. But when the
battles begin the quality of the material crashes to the ground. It's energetic but predictable as a flight plan, moviemaking on autopilot. The soundtrack in particular feels like car-chase music from every cop TV series ever made.
Anthony Michael Hall (THE BREAKFAST CLUB, EDWARD SCISSORHANDS), a young actor whose career has been on a roller coaster of hits, flops and the usual publicized-bouts-with-alcohol, contritely told the press that his temperamental antics made things miserable for director Fritz Kiersch during the
shoot, but Hall can't catch all the flak for such monumental banality. As Mitchell Burton, Tom Slade's high-strung manager, Terry Kiser overacts enough to revive vaudeville. Linden Ashby borrows Bruce Dern mannerisms in his small, but showy part as an American mercenary flying for the villians. As
the good-looking major with an arsenal of low-cut party dresses, Moore (she's Roger Moore's daughter, previously seen onscreen under the name Deborah Barrymore) is never more than decorative. Michael Pare (EDDIE AND THE CRUISERS, STREETS OF FIRE) comes off best; the B-movie action star essays
"Shotgun" Watkins with a proper blend of cool professionalism and understated humor.
INTO THE SUN played theaters in Washington, D.C., Dallas and elsewhere before ejecting into home video later in the year. (Violence, profanity, sexual situations.)
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