Iron Eagle IV

The fourth installment of the "Iron Eagle" franchise adds a new twist to the airborne saga by combining the sky-high heroics with a feel-good troubled-teens tale, but the new kids on the "Iron Eagle" block are unable to resuscitate this tired series. This Canadian-made actioner never manages to get off the runway and is destined to taxi straight into video bins and latenight cable slots.

With:
Charles Sinclair ... Louis Gossett Jr. Gen. Kettle ... Al Waxman Doug Masters ... Jason Cadieux Wheeler ... Joanne Vannicola

The fourth installment of the “Iron Eagle” franchise adds a new twist to the airborne saga by combining the sky-high heroics with a feel-good troubled-teens tale, but the new kids on the “Iron Eagle” block are unable to resuscitate this tired series. This Canadian-made actioner never manages to get off the runway and is destined to taxi straight into video bins and latenight cable slots.

Canadian producer and distrib Norstar Entertainment, which made the pic, snuck the film into Toronto and Montreal theaters with zero fanfare in mid-December.

Louis Gossett Jr. returns once again as retired Air Force Gen. Charles “Chappy” Sinclair, who is now reduced to running the Iron Eagle Flight School, a training center that caters exclusively to teens on the wrong side of the law. It takes a bit of arm-twisting, but he finally convinces former fighter pilot Doug Masters (Jason Cadieux) to help him run the school.

Masters and a couple of the adolescent would-be pilots land on an abandoned Air Force strip and spot a bunch of soldiers digging up suspicious-looking canisters. The surprised soldiers attempt to kill the young fliers, but the two school planes manage to escape safely. When Sinclair hears the students’ story, he immediately tells his Air Force buddy Gen. Brad Kettle (Al Waxman) about the mysterious activities at the air base.

Following some amateur sleuth work, Sinclair discovers that the canisters contain top-secret biological chemicals, and he begins to suspect they’ve stumbled upon a high-level Air Force conspiracy. The rather far-fetched story revs into full action mode at this point, as the Iron Eagle troupe takes on the entire Air Force, and a few ultra-violent drug dealers for good measure.

It turns out that Kettle is the head bad guy, and he’s intent on dumping the toxic chemicals on Cuba to test them. Sinclair and two of his students are taken prisoner by Kettle and his henchmen, and it’s up to Masters and the remaining juve jailbirds to orchestrate a daring rescue. The ensuing action involves, naturally, numerous midair dogfights, all kinds of heavy-weapons fire and a death-defying punch-up with the two combatants hanging on for dear life at the rear end of an airborne transport plane whose back doors are open.

Helmer Sidney J. Furie, who directed the first two “Iron Eagle” pics, is back but unable to breathe much life into Michael Stokes’ cliche-ridden script. Some of the high-altitude stunts are reasonably entertaining, but the ground-level drama is strictly ho-hum.

Gossett seems to be on automatic pilot here, and well-known Canuck thesp Waxman fails to add even a touch of evil to his portrayal of the crazed general. The young thesps fare better, particularly Joanne Vannicola as the drug-dealing wild girl Wheeler.

Tech credits are fine.

Iron Eagle IV

(CANADIAN)

Production: A Norstar release (in Canada) of a Norstar Entertainment production. (International sales: Summit Entertainment, Los Angeles.) Produced by Peter Simpson. Directed by Sidney J. Furie. Screenplay, Michael Stokes.

Crew: Camera (color), Curtis Petersen; editor, Jeff Warren; music, Paul Zaza; art direction, Michael Parks; costume design, Joyce Schure; sound, Ao Loo. Reviewed at Loews Cinema, Montreal, Dec. 20, 1995. Running time: 95 MIN.

With: Charles Sinclair ... Louis Gossett Jr. Gen. Kettle ... Al Waxman Doug Masters ... Jason Cadieux Wheeler ... Joanne VannicolaWith: Rachel Blanchard, Ross Hill, Karen Gayle, Dominic Zamprogna, Max Piersig, Sean McCann.

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