Lt. Col. Iceal "Ham" Hambleton is a weapons countermeasures expert and when his aircraft is shot over enemy territory the Air Force very much wants to get him back. Hambleton knows the area he's in is going to be carpet-bombed but a temporary shortage of helicopters causes a delay. Working with an Air Force reconnaissance pilot, Capt. Bartholomew Clark, he maps out an escape route based on golf courses he has played. Along the way however, he has to face enemy forces and the death of some of his fellow soldiers.Written by
Bat 21 was the call sign of Hambleton's EB-66 Destoyer. Hambleton's personal call sign for that mission was Bat-21-Bravo, which was based on the plane's call sign. See more »
In the first few minutes of the movie, as Iceal Hambleton (Gene Hackman) walks towards the helicopter, he carries a golf club in his right hand, and incorrectly salutes the helicopter pilot with his LEFT hand. See more »
Capt. Bartholomew Clark:
Let's get the basic relationship down... I'm the lifeguard, you're the drowning man. If you relax, I can bring you to shore. If you fight me, then I'll have to slap you around.
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Never saw this film when it was released originally in 1988. Not knowing what to expect, we decided to take a chance watching it on cable when it was shown the other night; it was a complete surprise. Director Peter Markle, working with a magnificent cast, headed by Gene Hackman and Danny Glover, does wonders to recreate this story of valor under the worst possible circumstances.
The cinematography is excellent. The film relies on visual effects, that are not to be confused with the incredible special effects that we have seen in other movies. Yes, of course, we all know that they are special, but the movie relies in the interplay between the missing Col. Hambleton on the ground and Capt. "Bird Dog" Clark who had the courage to stay focused, first in his plane, and later in the helicopter as he searches for this man, who he didn't even know.
It's a tribute that these two military men in caring for one another in a difficult situation. Gene Hackman is an actor that always project convincing character. His take on the colonel is the real thing. Danny Glover, on the other hand, is on target. He demonstrates he has what it takes to hold it against big stars, like Mr. Hackman, or in his films with Mel Gibson. He is a joy to watch in his portrayal of a man who is an honest professional.
For fans of action war movies, this is a more real approach to the genre thanks to the vision of its director Peter Markle.
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