The IRON EAGLE series, like TOP GUN (1986) which inspired it, had always been pitched at the youth crowd. Now, an entire squadron of streetwise urchins soar to the rescue. If Louis B. Mayer had been this shameless, there would have been anti-Luftwaffe classes at BOYS TOWN.
The setup rewrites IRON EAGLE II (1988), in which Doug Masters, co-hero of the first in the series, was blown up over Soviet airspace. It turns out Masters (Jason Cadieux, replacing Jason Gedrick) survived to spend years in a gulag. Released, he resentfully resists joining his mentor, retired USAF
Gen. Chappy Sinclair (Lou Gossett Jr.), who rehabs youthful incorrigibles from a nearby correctional facility by teaching them flight skills. Among the car thieves, phone phreaks and hackers in the pilot program is unrepentant drug courier Catherine Wheeler (Joanne Vannicola), who takes a plane to
rip off former associates. Doug follows, and when they land at an abandoned airbase, their lives are threatened by mystery commandoes unearthing cannisters. They escape to report the skullduggery. Placing his trust in old buddy General Kettle (Al Waxman) to protect the kids, Sinclair exposes the
right-wing Operation Pandora, an unauthorized drop of lethal biological agents on Castro's Cuba. When a sheriff arrives to shut down the flight program, the adolescents revolt and fortify Sinclair's lone-wolf mission to stop the toxic convoy, even as Kettle turns out to be Operation Pandora's
secret mastermind. The trainees distinguish themselves by outmaneuvering Air Force vets, supporting Masters in mortal combat, and infiltrating the germ-carrier plane, from which one teen dumps the deadly canisters in the ocean. General Kettle commits suicide in a plague-filled lab, and Wheeler is
offered work at the relaunched flight school alongside Masters and Sinclair.
Yep, viewers will be cheering as troubled teens save America's reputation in the free world, and further repay their teacher's faith by choosing to be instructors at his unorthodox school. That Chappy Sinclair must be some teacher! Guaranteed to win howls of derision from the same cynical young
viewers to which it panders, this franchise left over from the Reagan '80s demonstrates how B-movie hacks must invent wars where none exist. Here, inbred paranoia about covert military operations makes a strange bedfellow for the second-chance optimism of juvenile delinquent flicks. It's the
Scared Straight Kids vs. the Special Forces, and damned if the flying teenagers don't make those Pentagon renegades cry Uncle Sam!
In this gung-ho milieu, nothing makes realistic sense; still, there's no defense for a scene in which Masters psychologically tortures a captive bad guy with a bottle of wasps while explaining how the insects sting worse than bees. (Closeups show the `wasps' are common honeybees after all.) As for
other winged things, flight sequences and explosions are good enough to make one wish the opportunistic producers hadn't gambled on teen toughlove for a refueling. Maybe rebel James Dean could have saved Sal Mineo had they a cause like the Iron Eagle high school dropouts. (Violence, profanity.)
Cast & Details See all »
- Released: 1996
- Rating: PG-13
- Review: The IRON EAGLE series, like TOP GUN (1986) which inspired it, had always been pitched at the youth crowd. Now, an entire squadron of streetwise urchins soar to the rescue. If Louis B. Mayer had been this shameless, there would have been anti-Luftwaffe clas… (more)