Iron Eagle (1986)

2010 #122
Sidney J. Furie | 112 mins | TV | 15 / PG-13

You know how sometimes you see a bit of a movie on TV and you end up watching just long enough to get caught up so much you’re in for the long haul, no matter what the quality? No? Maybe it’s just me (usually around this time of year, it seems). Iron Eagle is, naturally, my latest example of this phenomena.

Quite what drew me to Iron Eagle I’m not sure. Perhaps it was seeing a young David Suchet. Perhaps it was the ludicrous ease with which a bunch of teenagers pilfered a variety of highly sensitive materials from an airforce base in the sequence I happened to catch upon ending a recording I’d been watching. Whatever it was, after being suckered for ten minutes I had to rewind and give it a full go. (Sadly my digibox’s rewind didn’t quite get back to the beginning of the film, but I don’t think it’s likely to change my opinion.)

The whole of Iron Eagle is like the sequence I mentioned: daft and implausible. The plot, for those unaware of the film (which included me), is that an American pilot is captured by Qatar due to flying into their airspace, even though he was hundreds of miles outside it. When he’s sentenced to execution and the US Government refuses to do anything practical to get him back, his teenage son — who he’s been illicitly teaching to fly fighter jets — resolves to steal one and go get his dad. Hells yeah! Or something.

Like I said, daft and implausible. And that isn’t necessarily a problem, but as you watch Iron Eagle you can’t help but wonder if the filmmakers are trying to convince viewers it could be plausible. And it isn’t. Not in the slightest.

Suchet would make an excellent villain — the role he’s cast in — but he’s criminally underused. He’s even dispatched out of hand at the end. None of the other performances are really worth noting. Jason Gedrick, as the son, may look the part — in an ’80s kinda way — of the kid who’s actually a hot-shot pilot, but his acting chops are choppy. He went on to be in Boomtown, incidentally, a much underrated cop show that I really rather liked. I don’t really recall him in it.

Talking of Other Things People Have Done, did you recognise the director’s name? Furie helmed not only the risible Superman IV (I’m not sure I’ve seen all of that, but I’ve seen enough to know it’s risible) and… The Ipcress File. The Ipcress File! I’ve not seen that either, but I think we all know this is a serious step down. Poor man. His career went on to include Iron Eagle II and the direct-to-video Iron Eagle IV. Yes, there are four of them, and apparently they’re even worse and not in keeping with the spirit of this first. Poor man.

On the bright side, the son likes to listen to music while flying his fighter jet (as you can see, the plausibility just goes on and on), one of his choice tracks being Queen’s One Vision. Anything featuring a Queen song multiple times can’t be all bad.

2 out of 5

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