“Zito could have either given Braddock more initiative earlier or created a predicament where he needed to escape. The first act meanders along too slowly. Zito also truncates the middle of the film because according to Bruner, Braddock was supposed to be aided by three or four of his Army friends aside from just Tuck. Zito’s sense of cinematic space and direction of action scenes isn’t as focalized as the horror and terror is in The Final Chapter. Unlike the third Friday sequel, war-based or physical action sequences lack any suspense or thrills. Missing in Action’s narrative thread pulls away at the seams.”
Back when I first watched Missing In Action in the theater, way back in December 1984, I was unimpressed. The reviewer above points out exactly how I felt, and still feel, about this particular Cannon picture and why it doesn’t work. Lousy storytelling, thin characters, an overabundance of distractingly improbable action, all resulting in zero suspense.
I’ve revisited the film a few times over the years, viewing it with appropriately diminished expectations, on the off chance that I might actually find something of merit in the film…
…which can happen sometimes. Invasion U.S.A., for example, works wonderfully when viewed as a live-action Looney Tunes comedy.
Nope. Missing In Action still sucks. Always will, I’m afraid. And don’t get me started on its dreadful prequel, Missing In Action II: The Beginning.
After one more movie with director Joe Zito (the aforementioned Invasion U.S.A.) and the overlong, bizarrely serious-yet-cartoonish The Delta Force, Chuck Norris’ career as a leading man ground to a halt for this disappointed fan.
His subsequent films? Firewalker…Braddock: Missing In Action III…Hero And The Terror…Delta Force 2…The Hitman…Zzzzzzz….
Chuck Norris made some really fun, entertaining action movies during the early years of his career, several of them (Silent Rage, An Eye For An Eye, The Octagon, A Force Of One, Breaker! Breaker!) still among my favorites of their kind, in particular Silent Rage.
Then he got in bed with Cannon Films, started taking himself too seriously, and that was the end of it.
I’ve always felt Chuck’s action movies grew less interesting the more his characters came to rely on guns and rockets (beginning with 1983’s Lone Wolf McQuade, which I still kind of enjoy) instead of his hands and feet, which is the aspect of his screen persona that first gained him recognition from fans. And if you look at Chuck’s filmography you can also see that McQuade also marked the first appearance of the famous beard.
Though he managed to make a couple decent films with it, that beard marked the beginning of the end.