A former Vietnam War lieutenant reforms his old team in order to help a revolutionary's sister overthrow a ruthless dictator.A former Vietnam War lieutenant reforms his old team in order to help a revolutionary's sister overthrow a ruthless dictator.A former Vietnam War lieutenant reforms his old team in order to help a revolutionary's sister overthrow a ruthless dictator.
Alas - the movie gods do not always deliver, and we can only wonder how writer/director/schlockmeister James Glickenhaus sleeps at night for deluding us (if you answer "on a pile of money, surrounded by beautiful girls", you're a-okay with me). What we get with McBain is a movie that's in many ways just as silly, though less willing to make peace with it. It's probably one of the better B-movie Rambo knock- offs lumbering around the $0.99 DVD bin, if only because it's so earnest about its serious political aspirations in its tale of jingoistic, macho, white saviour interventionism it's kind of adorable. For those turning the film into a drinking game (and, again, why else would you be here), look for each moment Walken is framed heroically by some piece of American iconography - welding on the Brooklyn bridge, or crabbing next to Lady Liberty - or, later, posturing in front of the Colombian flag. You won't be disappointed. Or sober.
To his credit, Glickenhaus crafts a mighty impressive action sequence. As Walken and his war buddies stage a military coup in Colombia (though amusingly apparent as the Philippines, right down to the distinctly non-Colombian extras), with explosions, bullets, tank and plane chases galore, their blowouts are so fun that we even temporarily transcend the evident cheapness that permeates the rest of the film, from its wobbly dialogue to its grainy, washed-out cinematography. There's even the occasional striking image - a shark-painted helicopter soaring over the gorgeous cough-Vietnam(?)-cough scenery, and the opening sequence, where a group of discharged GIs rescue Walken from a bamboo cage POW camp because America, it's actually fairly thrilling, thanks largely to some stylish cross-cutting and Christopher Franke's pounding musical score.
But, thankfully, before things slide into being too respectable and/or dull, Glickenhaus grants us enough bits of wonderful weirdness to make it worth our while. Here, Luis Guzmán cameos as a self-righteous drug dealer, who indignantly protests why McBain's crew didn't rob a richer fat cat to finance their revolution than him (so they do, dangling him from a crane), and the United States president orders the printing of red, white, and blue currency as a galvanizing stand against drug cartels. This is the sort of excellent nonsense which makes the world go 'round.
As an additional layer of disappointment, Walken doesn't even get to play outrageously campy action star here; instead he's a sun hat and sunglasses-wearing Hannibal Smith type, leading his A-Team of buds (including the famously grumbly Michael Ironside, who has fun as a multi-millionaire who sheepishly jettisons his life of opulence to go romp around Colombia) with quiet authority as they blow up most of the countryside. Walken's clearly too bored to be as flamboyantly weird as he is at his best, but, lack of grandstanding aside, he can still do no wrong. He's charm personified in a clumsily shoehorned-in love subplot with Maria Conchita Alonso's revolutionary widow, and his nonchalant delivery makes even his most unassuming lines brim with hilarious banality (the best: "she's gonna clear the runway. Or she might be dead. More that that, I don't know"). And, mercifully, he comes away with at least one iconic Walken moment: a patented monologue comparing the corrupt, repressive regime murdering dissenters and getting children addicted to drugs to his time at Woodstock, which is in such hysterically poor taste it's genuinely spectacular - though his taking a camcorder 'revolution selfie' with his mini-A-Team is pretty excellent as well.
This might not be the McBain you or The Simpsons want, but the inherent pleasure of 'Christopher Walken does Rambo meets The A-Team' still provides its share of dispensable, wacky, gloriously overkill macho silliness to ween yourself off your disappointment with. Just imagine Walken bellowing "MENDOZAAAAAA!!!!" as he explodes through the ceiling to confront 'El Presidente, and the world is immediately a better place. Ice to see you, too.
- Apr 11, 2016