February 03, 1986 12:00 PM

One of the reported reasons for President Reagan’s hesitation to take military action against Libya is a fear that an American pilot would be shot down and held captive. That is what happens in this Rambo-goes-to-the-Middle-East. After his plane is hit by an antiaircraft missile, Tim (Volunteers) Thomerson is tried as a spy by an Arab country and sentenced to death. When the U.S. government decides there is nothing it can do diplomatically or militarily, the downed pilot’s 18-year-old son, Jason (The Heavenly Kid) Gedrick, and retired colonel Lou (An Officer and a Gentleman) Gossett Jr. commandeer a couple of F-16s to rescue him. The rescue attempt is hardly believable, but the aerial scenes (shot over Israel using Israeli Air Force planes) have to be some of the flashiest ever filmed. And it’s a treat to hear Gossett reel off such teeth-clenched lines as “There’s somethin’ about maniacs messing with good men that always pisses me off.” David Suchet, as a Middle East despot who talks like Bela Lugosi, plays the villainy to the hilt. When director Sidney (The Entity) Furie yelled “action” on this one, he meant it. This is a fast-moving, chauvinist’s delight, corny enough in its macho posturing to be a real crowd pleaser. (PG-13)

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