Iron Eagle II nervily tries to update the formula [of the 1986 original]. Plot meanders and fails to really fire its engines until deep into the story.
Puppyfaced rock ‘n’ roll fighter pilots, including Tom Cruise-lookalike Mark Humphrey, accidentally stray into Soviet airspace and one gets shot down. The survivor, Cooper (Humphrey), starts nursing a big grudge against Soviets.
Next thing you know he’s recruited for a secret mission led by Louis Gossett Jr (reprising his role as Chappy) who’s been given a general’s star as incentive to lead US and Soviet pilots on a joint mission to destroy a nuclear weapons base in an unnamed Mideast country that is a threat to them both.
The American team members are shown as prejudiced slobs given to pranks, insults and dirty tricks. To make things worse, Vardovsky (Alan Scarfe) was part of the squadron that gunned down Cooper’s buddy, an also keeps a jealous eye on an alluring female Soviet pilot, Valeri Zuyeniko (Sharon H. Brandon), whom Cooper wastes no time strutting for.
Pic’s chief weakness is that for much of the screentime, the ‘joint mission’ seems like just a weak premise to bring together both sides for lowbrow Police Academy-style antics and infighting. On the plus side, the goons slowly and grudgingly develop a bond and understanding that proves to be pic’s crowning glory.