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  Let's Get Harry Jungle Jitters
Year: 1986
Director: Stuart Rosenberg
Stars: Mark Harmon, Gary Busey, Robert Duvall, Michael Schoeffling, Rick Rossovich, Thomas F. Wilson, Jon Van Ness, Glenn Frey, Ben Johnson, Elpidia Carrillo, Matt Clark, Gregory Sierra, Pierrino Mascarino, Jerry Hardin, Terry Camilleri, James Keane, David Hess
Genre: Drama, Action, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Harry Burck Jr (Mark Harmon) has recently completed overseeing the construction of a hydro-electric dam in Colombia, and is looking forward to returning home to Aurora Illinois, but then hits a major snag when he is kidnapped by local terrorists who mistake him for a diplomat. Back home, his brother Corey (Michael Schoeffling) is deeply upset at the news, not to mention all the workers at the factory he and his buddies have jobs in, but to rub salt into the wounds the American government refuse to do anything to help, or won't as far as they can see. The excuse is that the USA do not negotiate with terrorists, so what can Corey do to secure the safe return of his sibling?

Guess he'll just have to do it himself, so off he and his mates go to Central America to kick terrorist ass. If this sounds like a typical Ronald Reagan-era action flick wish-fulfilment exercise, then you would not be too far wrong, but there was an odd tone to Let's Get Harry which spoke to a more serious, even contemplative approach. Did you want you action movies to ponder over the legitimacy of mercenary missions in light of the impotence felt by many Americans in the face of the global crises that assailed them every night on the television news, and if they were particularly unlucky, in their real live as well? Then this effort went some way to bringing such matters to the screen.

Well, it's easy to say that now, but back in 1986 this was hardly released thanks to behind the scenes issues such as director Stuart Rosenberg leaving the project in post-production because he was being forced out of the editing room and not consulted on reshoots, fair enough, no director would want to put up with that, but it appeared to land him with a difficult reputation from then on, and he would helm only one more film - and that was in the nineties - before taking up a college teaching occupation. It would appear this originally began as precisely that ruminative adventure which posed some interesting questions about Americans' view of their place in the world, at any rate.

And then as it proceeded, got cold feet and decided to turn far more conventional with the clichés of an eighties men on a mission movie present and correct. The valid queries about how, exactly, you would find a kidnap victim in the jungles of Central America when you had no military experience and, here, were basically a bunch of plumbers with high expectations of their own abilities were certainly present, but too often the script was allowed to get goofy. Even so, it continued to retain that mask of deadly seriousness, but when you've cast Gary Busey as the bankrolling used car salesman who is allowed to come along because he has experience of big game hunting, you can't ask us to swallow your oh-so-sincere thoughts on the reality and implications of what you were peddling.

Also odd was Glenn Frey of mega-successful rock band The Eagles as one of Corey's team, not as hairy as he had been in the seventies (though the 'tache was there), so if you ever wanted to see what a millions-selling rocker looked like with a machine gun in his fists, here was an opportunity (spoiler: he looks awkward). Let’s Get Harry had been the brainchild of Sam Fuller, but like many of his latter day projects he was ousted from it and there were mere traces of what you imagine the cult director would have brought to the piece. He would have made more of Robert Duvall's mercenary, that's for sure, as it's easy to forget Duvall had quite the side career as the man of action throughout the seventies and into the eighties; he at least was convincing as a hard man guiding the clueless. Needless to say, by the finale they're all experts in jungle warfare somehow and all those good intentions went up in an oily explosion, which was OK as far as that went, but you wanted to see the film they originally intended to craft. Music by Brad Fiedel.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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