Monday, March 19, 2012

U.S.A., You've Been Invaded

Much is made of Hollywood's nefarious liberal agenda, and there is something to those criticisms--mainstream films tend to carry a political slant that favors the mainstream left, often romanticizing communists (like in the movie "Reds") or unions ("Norma Rae") or making mockery of posted speed limits ("Smokey and the Bandit"). But for all you conservative complainers out there, I have this to say--when Hollywood tilts to a conservative agenda, it gets hilariously far worse.

I submit to you the mid-'80s--Reagan's landslide re-election was timed to meet with blockbuster films involving conservative action heroes, such as Arnold Schwartzenegger in "Commando", Sly Stallone in "Rambo II" and Chuck Norris in "Invasion U.S.A."

I was living in France when "Invasion U.S.A." came out, and when I saw the movie posters my assumption was that this was the bastardized Frenchified title of movie that probably had a less stupid-sounding English title. (For example, when "Raising Arizona" came out, the French posters called it "Arizona Junior". When "Delta Force" came out, the French posters called it "Le Blowup du Americain, Avec Avion"). So I assumed "Invasion U.S.A." was really something less stupid-sounding, like "Cold Steel and Hot Nights" or "Beard and Fists".

Nope--the movie really is called "Invasion U.S.A."! And the film itself--finally viewed yesterday--is every bit as absurd as the image of Chuck Norris firing twin Uzis at the camera. Look out, good taste! You're about to get Chucked!

The film features an evil terrorist mastermind whose brilliant plan is to use WWII style landing crafts to bring hundreds of terrorist baddies onto the Florida shores and begin wreaking random havoc on Americans. Clearly, these surplus landing crafts made much more sense than just sneaking them in minivans across the Canadian border--and clearly our Coast Guard is too busy picking up rafts filled with poor Haitians to notice several massive vessels streaming over from somewhere (it is not clear where the disembarkation point was, but if you start asking questions like that, you're not ready for this movie). The mayhem caused by the terrorists is as mindless as you'd expect--firing rockets into houses at a cul-de-sac (during Xmas, no less!), dressing as cops to shoot Hispanics at a street party, gunning down shoppers at a mall--and this might be compelling if they had the decency to explain to the viewing audience what their agenda was. In "Die Hard", for example, the bad guys wanted money, in "Delta Force" it was about getting jailed terrorists freed. Here, the violence just seems pointless, though the breakdown of order and advance towards a military state is hinted on, and could have been an interesting issue to explore. How do we balance our freedoms with security?

Instead, we get Chuck Norris, who is apparently some former top government operative, now working at wrangling gators in the Florida swamps. He comes out of retirement--with a vengeance! Do I really need to explain how he stops the terrorists? Since this is a Chuck Norris vehicle, let's just say it involves a lot of roundhouse kicks, explosions, shootings and terrible one-liners.

But despite the conservative message of the film--foreigners are basically bad evil terrorists who hate America and Xmas and reporters are just annoying--there's also a bit of a subversive theme here too. Essentially, our reliance on defense and police spending is a total waste--the only thing that can stop an army of terrorists is Chuck Norris.

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