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STUDIO: Screen Media
RATED: R for language and some violence.
RUNNING TIME: 96 minutes
Navy SEALs: Angst essen Seele auf
Writer/Director: Mark C. Andrews
Cast: Jeremy Davis, Ken Gamble, Zach McGowan, Neto DePaula, Kristoffer Garrison, Jes Meza, Chris Warner, Ed Gillow.
first SEAL team into Iraq during the Gulf War runs into trouble because
their operation is bankrolled by Z-grade direct-to-video movie
producers. From the studio that brought you such horror films as SNOOP
DOGG’S HOOD OF HORROR, FLAVA FLAV’s NITE TALES, and GOOBY.
King in Danse Macabre wrote “You don’t appreciate cream unless you’ve
drunk a lot of milk, and maybe you don’t even appreciate milk unless
you’ve drunk some that’s gone sour.” By the same token, nothing will
make you appreciate the production values of a B-movie like watching a
really bad Z-grade movie.
SEAL Team is essentially a fan film
about Navy SEALs. It’s made by someone who obviously thinks SEALs are
awesome, but perhaps doesn’t think good filmmaking is also awesome. This is straight-up Z-grade cinema. No money, talent or effort was harmed in the
making of this movie. The only harm is to the viewer. Well, maybe also to the
real Navy SEALs; if I made a movie this bad about a real-life squad of
elite covert commandos, I’d eat the tapes rather than release it, for
fear of reprisal.
SEAL Team is a nostalgic bit of neo-con
cinema, set back in the year 1990. I remember that era like it was 20
years ago: space heroes on TV still got to wear pajamas, the Secret
Service raided Steve Jackson Games to prevent the GURPS Cyberpunk
sourcebook from turning innocent gamers into computer hackers, and oh
yeah we invaded Iraq. The story is about SEAL Team VI, which
technically was renamed to “United States Naval Special Warfare
Development Group” in 1987, but Wikipedia says they’re still informally
called SEAL Team 6 so the director’s off the hook.
“Our dots totally made it to the dot! Gimme some skin!”
SEAL Team 6
is sent to sneak into Iraq and tag targets for the initial airstrikes
before ground forces are sent in. A sad SEAL on crutches stares off
into space while his inner monologue narrates the operation (seen as a
series of flashbacks) in voiceover.
We meet the SEALs, who seem
to secretly feel insecure, like they’re not very necessary, because in
the first twenty minutes we hear the SEALs say no less than three times
that they’re here to “do what’s necessary.” That’s OK, though, the
screenwriter didn’t seem to feel his characters were necessary either.
The SEALs also repeatedly remind each other (and us) over and over
again about how they’re really going to do their job this time, which
is to “break things,” to do “bad things to bad people” and to put “a
boot in somebody’s ass.” I’m sure SEALs hype each other up in real
life; they need to get their adrenaline going if they’re about to
embark on a dangerous mission. So maybe there’s some validity to how
the characters are talking in this part, but the way the dialogue is
written sounds more like a high school football team in the locker
room, except less vulgar.
The narrator, Petty Officer Michael
Davis, is seen in SEAL Training Camp. We learn he transferred in from
the Army Rangers. We see him training with the other members of SEAL
Team 6 (Who are already SEALs. Is that how they do it? I would think
that he’d be in training camp with other new SEAL recruits.) They say
he’s never going to make it as a SEAL because he can’t do push-ups
right. But then he does a lot of push-ups, so they make him a SEAL.
“Don’t cry, Senator, I’m sure they’d give you a real office if they had one to spare.”
the SEALs can go do some ass-booting, they have to get the go-ahead
from Washington. That means an angry SEAL Captain has to yell at a
senator. It’s a stupid scene for several reasons. It takes place in a
red office that’s supposed to be on Capitol Hill. You can see paint
chipping off one of the walls; furthermore, there’s a lot of framed
pictures and certificates on the walls, suggesting that they used those
to hide the other bits of chipping paint, but ran out for this last
spot. Now, good locations often cost money, but good writing doesn’t
have to. The Senator’s a lazily written, one-dimensional strawman
character, a macho teenager’s idea of a “self-serving politician.” But
the arguments he makes don’t even make sense within his character’s
very basic worldview. The conflict in this scene seems to exist for no
other reason than to create a procedural plot hurdle and win some cheap
points from the audience (“Politicians are self-serving AMIRIGHT?!”).
The Senator relents (as we knew he would, or we wouldn’t have a movie), and the SEALs invade California.
“Scuse me, buddy, can you direct me to the local strategically significant defense emplacements?”
helicopter takes them to California. There, they meet
up with a truck, and shoot some of California’s local Iraqi population.
argue a lot during their hike through the California highlands.
Throughout the movie there’s a lot of angst and conflict among the
SEALs, but they’re such one-dimensional characters that it all feels
like it’s just there to fill time and satisfy the requirements of a
screenwriting manual. The script fails to imbue any of the characters
with any interesting substance, so all the conflict seems to simply
emerge from the fact that they’re SEALs, and thus they’re “intense” and
Later, a truck driver sneaks them across the border into their intended destination: New Jersey.
On their way into Jersey they say things like:
“Penetrate the city!”
“Let’s do this right. No mistakes. In and out!”
“You ladies gotta quit bumpin’ your dicks up and get your head in the game.”
follows is a scattershot montage of them running around New Jersey, and
the implication of planes bombing various buildings (mostly in New
Jersey), plus the occasional CGI plane. I don’t know how bombing New
Jersey is going to save American lives during the invasion of Iraq;
maybe it’s an intimidation tactic, like how in martial arts movies the
guy who’s three times bigger than the hero will break stuff on his own
head or his muscles, just to show him “I don’t even give a fuck!”
Operation “Blow up the concrete slab” was a complete success.
showing the SEALs running away from the same exploding building about
four or five times, the montage ends and the SEALs leave New Jersey the
same way Zach Braff did: by going to California. There they shoot a
child who’s about to blow their cover by chasing his soccer ball in the
wrong place at the wrong time.
They feel bad about it,
(especially Master Chief Devon Mackefy, who, we learn in flashbacks,
saw his son get hit by a car and blames himself) and try to fix him up
but he dies. Then they hit the beach and fight their way out. They make
it into the water and hang together. They’ve only been in the water a
few minutes when the helicopter pilot looking for them tells Washington
(the Senator and angry SEAL Captain have been listening in on the whole
operation throughout the movie for some reason) he’s probably not going
to find them. He’s told he has to, so he then goes and finds them. The
Narrator tells us the Master Chief died an hour later, but that he
found peace before he died. How? By burying the child they killed in an
“I think we buried some of our demons there too.” the Narrator tells us.
I have no idea why part of this movie takes place on that planet where Kirk fought the Gorn.
Chief insisted on the burial, and the SEALs all feel really good about
themselves for doing it. There’s a flashback to the burial scene, where
the Master Chief tells the Narrator that it’s ok, God will forgive us,
and the Narrator tells him “He won’t have to!” Not sure what the
director intends with that baffling line. Maybe that God loves America
and hates the Arab.
The director was of course contractually obligated to deliver a slow-motion shot of the team walking in a line.
Writer/director Mark C. Andrews clearly
loves America’s service men, and wants to portray the angst and
suffering they go through by being put in impossible situations. But
his writing fails in two big ways. First, without good
characterization, one doesn’t care about what these men are going
through. Second, he gives them an utterly cheap redemption. Either one
of these problems on its own would have sunk the movie.
low-budget war movie, there are copious amounts of stock footage,
poorly used. There’s also a scene where they’re loading guns into a bag
and one of the guns clearly has an orange ring around the barrel, like
Airsoft toy guns are required to have.
By 1990, Iraq’s Elite Republic Guard had really let themselves go.
is a movie that fails on every level. It’s boring, it’s confusing at
times, the writing is sophomoric, the budgetary limitations are
distracting (and sometimes boil down more to a lack of attention to
detail than a lack of money), the characters are one-dimensional, and
the acting is abysmal. The only good thing I can say about it is that a
few of the shots are kind of pretty, but I can’t even praise the
cinematography, because the compositions are often downright awkward.
video quality looks good, though it seems to be interlaced; a lot of
ghosting is evident. The stock footage is more interlaced than the
original footage (amusing, since in movies shot on film stock footage
was often easily identifiable by being dirtier and more damaged than
the rest of the movie) and might have undergone two frame-rate
conversions, one to bring it to the same frame rate as the movie, and
again to transfer it to DVD. The only bonuses are trailers for SEAL
Team and for a few other DTV flicks.