The 'plot' involves a Vietnam Vet Bobby McBain (Walken)whose friend Santos, a Colombian revolutionary, is killed by the evil dictator on live TV, whose sister comes to McBain to help organize a revolution in that country. For no real reason, other than to alleviate his self-confessed boredom and to avenge his Columbian ex-colleague from Nam, he and his gang of overtly gay middle aged nerds get into a little prop plane and fly off to Colombia to do this.
I started writing a review for this, but deleted it because it ended up totally incoherent. No wonder really, as the madness I was trying to chart is so messed up it's really hard to know where to start. So instead of indignantly providing analogies of McBain's sheer crappiness, I'll just list a few examples from the film which sum it up suitably:
several people are murdered by people who we have seen die themselves moments earlier
the special effects, especially some mid-air explosions, look like they were done by a small child with a chemistry set
at one point, McBain is sitting in the co-pilot seat of a small prop plane. Flying next to them is a jet whose pilot is trying to force them to land. McBain pulls out this stupidly small pistol, and shoots the jet pilot, who crashes, despite the noticeable non-smashing of either windscreen!
Some rebels attempt to infiltrate the presidential palace using a stretched limo. The driver opens the boot and four men jump out. Four! Near the end of the film, a government soldier was asking an old man at a café if he has seen Christina, the rebel leader. He beats the man who doesn't tell him anything. This is great because at the next table are a load of American mercenaries in sunglasses, Hawaiian shirts, and fedora hats!
In a similar vein, during all the battle scenes the good guys can generally just stand around without so much as a bullet touching them, where the bad guys get routinely mowed, and in many cases clearly fail to even notice the machinegun-toting middle aged mercenaries!
The doctor of the group has to perform emergency surgery on a little girl after a battle. He says she would die without proper facilities, but McBain tells him to go ahead as she would die anyway. After briefly slicing her with a little knife (the girl has had her rib cage severely crushed), she sits there for a second, and smiles! The stupidest survival from mortal wounding since Marie in Biggles: Adventures in Time.
A tall, Germanic looking drug dealer is really running Colombia. Predictably, he is called Hans.
A typical example of the nonsense value of the plot: the group doctor declares he is going to stay with the wounded to help them. Then, in the next scene, he is back doing soldiering!
And another: at the start, the guys are told the Vietnam War is over, and they get into their helicopter to fly home. All of a sudden they see one VC on the ground, and decide to launch a full scale covert assault on a POW camp they hadn't even seen. Yeah, that's exactly what you do right after getting discharged.
You know a movie is in trouble when even the extras don't look convincing. I blame the director.
Normally I like mercenary movies. They make great viewing and the body count is typically high enough to make up for the lack of plot. Skeleton Coast and Wild Geese were both enjoyable. But McBain, thanks to a total lack of plot development, realistic effects, bearable acting, and tongue in cheek humour, comes across merely as a convoluted, confused mess. In honesty it looked like a load of set pieces had been brought in from a variety of scripts, banged together any which way, and then tagged together with the formulaic 'South American dictator/drug baron revolution' shtick.
Don't get me wrong I sat through it fine, it was never boring, because I was splitting my sides most of the time at the hilariously bad production values and situations. There are some pretty good moments, such as when McBain's gang kidnap a gangster called John Cambotti and dangle him off a skyscraper pretending to be Israeli agents. That part was cool. But the set-up for it, where they killed everyone in a crack house without either taking the money or destroying the drugs, and getting a lecture from the drug chief, was so artificial I just didn't understand why it was put in. Needless to say, mindless killing and slaughter is only entertaining if its well done on a technical level, unlike this ham-fest, where someone is dragged out of a window after a ceiling fan and hundreds of extras overtly mis-time their exaggerated death throes
There is lots of violence but some of it is so poorly done that it actually looks funny, which is not always a good thing. I bought this DVD for £1.49, which in retrospect seems like a bit of a rip-off. I'll hang onto it though, for any occasion in which I want to either play drinking games for number of dead etc, or as a showcase for some truly shoddy film-making.