January 28, 1991 12:00 PM

Danny Glover, Brad Johnson, Willem Dafoe

The Intruder of the title is the A-6 bomber flown by U.S. Navy pilots during the Vietnam War. But the winged entity this movie evokes most vividly has a beak and drumsticks and rhymes with lurky.

Taken from a pop adventure novel by Stephen Coonts, it is about a preposterous crusade by Johnson (Always), an A-6 pilot, and Dafoe, his bombardier, to attack Hanoi during that part of the war when Hanoi was off-limits to American air raids.

The level of plausibility is illustrated when squadron commander Glover is shot down over the North. He is surrounded by 100 or so North Vietnamese troops, all within easy range of Glover and his plane. The Vietnamese, however, seem to take a tea break, disappearing while Glover waits to be rescued by Johnson and Dafoe, who are back on their carrier. When Johnson does arrive, he comes charging at the obviously injured Glover and appears to flop on him as if he’s going for a pin.

Though some of the aerial scenes showing A-6s dodging antiaircraft missiles are slickly mounted, director John (Red Dawn) Milius and writers Robert (The River) Dillon and David (Nighthawks) Shaber primarily seemed intent on cramming in as many inane scenes as possible, from Rosanna Arquette’s token appearance as Johnson’s love interest to the one where Dafoe asks Johnson if their single attack might “change anything at the peace table.” Johnson frowns in deep thought and pronounces, “I don’t know. It might.”

As for the cliché-o-rama: “Let’s do it.” “It’s too quiet.” “We’ll be easy targets up there, gentlemen, but they’re counting on us.” And a classic: “I came here to bomb.”

Dafoe, though he may have served too many Vietnam film tours (four, counting Born on the Fourth of July), and Glover keep their dignity. But by the end, Milius is reduced to rewriting history (North Vietnam seems about to cave in totally).

Hey, John. Babe. Tunnel’s closed. Light’s out. Party’s over. (PG-13)

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