Megaforce (1982): a recap (part 3 of 6)

Last time on Megaforce: We got the grand tour of a secret base made out of Introvisium and the revelation that Hunter knew Guerrera. Did he know him… intimately? Let’s find out!

Its dinner time at the base, and for some reason, Megaforce’s dress uniforms look a trifle less stupid when a hundred people are wearing them rather than two. Bear in mind, I used the word “trifle”. The General explains that Guererra and his “fanatics” have been roaming up and down the continent (assuming its Africa they’re talking about. But it’s interesting how ambiguous they’re being. Maybe all these fictional countries exist on an entirely different continent), toppling one government after another. Hunter points out Guerrera is not a fanatic; his motivation is money. He explains that they served together for eighteen months and the man was decorated twice for bravery. When things got “shaky” in his home country of Costa Brava (by the way, in our world, Costa Brava is a tourist region in Catalonia, an autonomous community in Spain. Now you’re a tiny bit smarter than you were thirty seconds ago. You’re welcome), he got called home and he pretty much got screwed by the politicians and was forced to surrender, which turned Guerrera from an idealist into a guy who’s all about the benjamins. Okay, I like this. I mean, it’s a visual medium and it’s about show, don’t tell, so exposition is always a tricky thing when it comes to storytelling devices. But no lie, it’s handled pretty well here. Henry Silva did a credible job with just one facial expression at the beginning of the movie to show he’s not a fanatic…

…and now Hunter explains why he’s a merc. It’s solid writing. And look, I’ll be honest here. I’m a half-hour into this movie and so far I don’t see how this flick gets the same 0% rating that shit-flicks like “Manos” The Hands of Fate justifiably earned.

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Buuuut I digress. Hunter explains how years later he ran into Guerrera in Nice (presumably in France. Kudos to the writers for not being lazy and using Paris), and “like most mercenaries in Rhodesia”, he had a huge bankroll and was living it up in a country where he could spend his money while not getting shot at. Hunter say he came “that close” to winning Guerrera back over to the side of the angels, and he holds up his lighter…

Government issue, cost Hunter five grand. Don’t ask how much the fuel costs.

…and Guerrera wound up stealing said lighter. Gee, I hope the lighter in question didn’t have the super secret army’s logo on it, like this one does.

The scene cuts to a different room, where Hunter begins to lay out Operation: Hook, Line, and Sinker. The plan is to trick Guerrera into crossing the border, where Zara’s people can engage him. So Hunter isn’t expecting to wipe out a tank battalion with dune buggies and motorcycles. Maybe all those hair products he’s using haven’t actually seeped through his skull and into his brain after all. He shows the pair a way cool hologram…

…and explains the plan is to spank Guerrera by blowing up his fuel dump (the hook), then running to the border (the line) where they cross it and the General’s army is there waiting to ambush Guerrera when he crosses it (the sinker). I… have no problem whatsoever with this plan. It even makes sense for Hunter to use weaponized dune buggies and motorcycles due to their speed. They even have a part where they stop to resupply and re-arm. It’s almost like one of the writers is a war veteran or something. Let me look at their bios… Huh. Albert S. Ruddy was a writer on Hogan’s Heroes.

Eh, close enough.

The gang is all packed and ready, and now it’s just a matter of leaving in the next two or three days depending on the weather, and whether or not Guerrera makes a move. The General says that was the best hologram he’s seen yet, and this is Dallas’ response:

Porky Pig’s slow cousin, Dorky. Every family’s got one.

And judging by the faux Loony Tunes music here, I’m wondering how much Hal Needham had to pay under the table to Warner Bros. to not sue him and Golden Harvest for copyright infringement. Hunter’s response is to give Dallas a look implying the man might come back from this mission in a body bag; a lot of accidents can happen out in the desert, you know. Zara smiles at Dallas’ antics, and I know I’m digressing here (again), but wouldn’t it be nice if rather than her heading for what may be an inevitable and clichéd romance with Hunter, she instead was drawn to the man who makes her laugh? Just sayin’.

Zara gets up, and with a smile she says she’s going with them on the mission, and let’s be honest about this: Zara is wrong. She isn’t rated on the motorcycles or the dune buggies, she hasn’t worked with Megaforce before, and bringing her up to speed would take weeks. And if Hunter used these arguments, maybe he could get her to agree. But what’s his response? “My soldiers are the finest the free world can provide. Excuse my presumption, but I find it hard to believe you possess the same expertise.” Zara’s response is a cocky grin along with, “Try me!” And to be fair, 1) Hunter’s an idiot for challenging her competency, seeing as this is a woman proud of her medals and the fact that she roughs it with the boys in the field, and 2) I think most male career soldiers would see Hunter’s statement as a challenge of their abilities. I mean, imagine telling this guy…

…that he looks precious in his dress blues, but in the field he’s probably a wuss? He’d take you up on any dare. After he removed his boot from your ass, that is. The man’s 74 and I’d be afraid to make eye contact with him.

So what does Hunter do? Does he say “no”? Does he provide a counter argument? Does he try to wine and dine Zara to get her mind off the challenge?

Nope. We’re going skydiving.

That hat. I wants it.

Um, Hunter, don’t you have the final details of a mission to work up? Hey, I understand commanding officers always have tons of paperwork to deal with, maybe you can tackle that? No? Okay, then. Hunter slowly explains to Zara how to skydive, and when he’s done, she jumps from the plane. So… either she’s never sky dived before and is really gung-ho, or she’s done this before and she let Hunter make an ass of himself telling her stuff she already knew. Either way, I approve. The guys exchange a look before Hunter jumps out, and here we go: we’re gonna get our first look at the “Zoptic” system. I’m guessing it’s some sort of early GoPro, or maybe some sort of hyper long-range camera technique so good we can see the skydivers’ faces…

Sooo, “Zoptic” is maybe Lithuanian for “green screen” or something?

A free-fall from 14,000 feet lasts 65 seconds, and to be fair, the whole scene before they pop the chutes is just a little over that. It just feels way, way longer. You know, the way they say a night in solitary confinement in prison can feel like weeks? I kept checking my cheeks to see how much my beard had grown. And the sappy music is utterly atrocious; it’s the low quality dreck you’d hear on TV shows. The composer is Jerrold Immel; what else has he done?

[Checks IMDb…]

Oh. He’s worked on a lot of TV shows. Right. Anyway, the pair land near a helicopter and the General is waiting for them. He smiles and says, “You know, dear, at the rate you’re going you may wind up commanding Megaforce!” He sounds like they’ve been doing this for weeks rather than it being probably a day or so. Zara further shows off her mad skills by piloting the helicopter back to base.

We cut to what looks like combat footage, and then the camera backs up to reveal it’s Zara sitting in a dune buggy simulator. It’s a pretty crappy simulator, in that it can’t simulate rough terrain or the sound of combat or what happens when you run over a skunk and the smell hits you in the back of your throat. The camera backs up further and you see Hunter nearby, watching from next to a motorcycle simulator. Are they still at the Megaforce base, or did they pop over to an arcade? Turns out Zara scored hella high and she’s all grins about it, and Hunter drops the bombshell: she still can’t come.

And Zara is upset. Or constipated. Still having trouble reading Persis’ facial expressions.

Hunter explains that he didn’t think she would measure up, and he’s very, very sorry he led her on all this time. Well, saying you’re sorry makes it allll better, now doesn’t it? Hunter gives this speech about how “those sixty guys” all know—

Wait. Sixty? Only sixty? Really? Maybe you should be called Microforce.

Anyway, Hunter says each guy knows what the other is thinking, and they act like one man. It’s a good speech, one he should have given two or three days ago before getting Zara’s hopes up, making her think she had a chance. Fuck you, Hunter. But don’t worry, I’m sure Zara’s going to give him a piece of her mind. She’s gonna lay into him with a scathing speech about how much of a prick he—

Oh, she compliments him on being a great military commander. Really. All I can assume is she’s full of rage but realizes she still needs this man to crush her country’s enemies, so she must wait for vengeance. Well, we all know that Klingon proverb about revenge being a dish best served cold, don’t we? And it gets very cold out in the desert at night. Zara will have him. Either that, or she fell in love with him in just a couple days and is giving him a pass. But that’s just stupid. Adults don’t fall in love in 48 hours. Right?

God, this fifteen minutes is just painful to sit through. I now know what a bear feels like when its foot gets caught in a trap. I need something to take my mind off of things before I start gnawing at my ankle.

Thanks, Al. Your star on the Walk of Fame should have been awarded to you decades ago, but better late than never. Now if only they would put you in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame like you deserve; then your accolades would be complete.

The word comes down that the mission is a go. The General tells Hunter he’ll take the Concorde back and meet Hunter at the rendezvous. Actually, I would have thought he should have been on a plane back home immediately after hearing about the plan, but I give the writers points for using the Concorde. For those of you who are too young to remember, it was a supersonic passenger jet that flew at Mach 2. They stopped flying them because 1) they were noisy as hell, and 2) they found out most people really didn’t need to get anywhere that fast. Unless you’re a General who should have gotten his ass on a plane days ago, that is. Now, for those of you who were expecting buns in spandex last week and were disappointed when I failed to deliver, I do apologize. But I think we can all agree…

…it was well worth the wait. Hunter and Zara meet outside the plane and she says, “Even though I’m not going, I’m happy I’m came this far!” Really, Zara? You’re happy Hunter played ping pong with your hopes and dreams and then laughed as he set the table on fire? Happy that he…

…Christ, I was only joking when I suggested you fell in love. The man emotionally abused you and you’re kissing him? After two days?! Do the writers even know how women think or feel?! Why is there even a love story in this goddamn movie? Remember what I said earlier about the undeserved 0% rating? I take it back. Hunter and Zara look longingly at one another, and then…

Whiskey. Tango. Foxtrot. What the hell was that? Was that a thing in the ’80s and I somehow missed it? Were they trying to make kissing your thumb and showing it off a thing, like Lacey Chabert trying to make “fetch” happen in Mean Girls? Was Hal Needham concussed while he was writing and shooting Megaforce? That’s the only explanation I can come up with, and any clever directing must have been done during brief (very brief) moments of lucidity. Oh goddamn, she’s even waving her thumb frantically back as the planes taxi across the desert. It looks like love has turned the fierce, confident Major Zara into a gushing Hunter fangirl. The General steps up beside Zara…

…and two things. Don’t you have a plane to catch, jackass? And why are you wearing my mom’s sunglasses? A lot of footage is shown of the C-130 transports taking off and being airborne, seeing as they probably sunk a hefty chunk of the budget into renting them from the US military. They might as well make the most of it. We transition from day… to dusk… to night. In one of the transports, Dallas does his job and tries to get some last minute clarifications regarding the mission.

Oh look, the uniforms are black now. Egg said earlier that they, like the vehicles, turned black in the absence of light. I always appreciate a touch of continuity. Hunter acts like a schoolboy fantasizing about his first crush. They talk about Zara and how Hunter couldn’t bring her. Dallas responds, “Couldn’t, or wouldn’t?” And after a pause, the boss says, “Didn’t.” It’s a nice little exchange, and it sounds like the way Real Men would talk about emotions, repressing them under manly stoicism. And I know Beck comes across half the time like a jackass, but honestly he holds his own. He swings between cartoonishly goofy and actually pretty decent. I guess that was the only thing keeping him from “losing” to Ed McMahon that year for his performance in some schlockfest called Butterfly, whose only redeeming feature apparently was Pia Zadora doing what Pia Zadora did best: get naked.

And no, I won’t be reviewing that one, either. Watch it, maybe, and then the following morning wake up full of self loathing and regret.

The Mexican guy (according to IMDb, his name is Lopez. God bless IMDb. Aw man, that means these guys don’t have call signs. Might be for the best; it was the ’80s, so Lopez might have been called “Speedy”) is attempting to solve a crossword puzzle, while a man known as “Sixkiller” tosses knives at him. Lopez is all cool about having six inches of steel whipped at his skull like it ain’t no thing, because he’s all badass and this is what macho hombres do to pass the time and pretend they aren’t scared shitless. Meanwhile, the Japanese guy (Suki) watches as Zach Taylor solves that most iconic of ’80s artifacts, the Rubik’s Cube.

Behold, the greatest paperweight I ever owned.

Dallas finds Hunter on the floor of the plane looking miserable; it seems their fearless leader gets airsick. Yeah, after what you did to Zara earlier, I’d say this is karma. Lopez and Sixkiller jump out of the plane with a load of… something… and the mission is on!

Next time: Things go boom!

Multi-Part Article: Megaforce: a recap

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  • Olaf_the_Lofty

    The first picture – blonde man with gelled hair, sweatband, and spandex catsuit – is even more characteristically early 80s than the Rubik’s Cube.