The entertainment industry is an infinitely strange place. For years I've heard crew on The Simpsons commentaries complain about how they were temporarily forced to stop using the name of their action hero McBain after an action movie was released under the same title.
What was this titan of film that could wrestle a TV show as huge as The Simpsons into submission? Surely it must have the strength of ten mortal men, and if you fertilize your garden with the clippings from its haircuts your pumpkins will grow huge enough to break a flatbed truck. Turns out 1991's McBain, subject of the year's first Big Awful Friday, is so obscure those commentators don't even know who its lead is, and my search for it took me to an ex-rental VHS online seller from upstate New York.
Following the death of her brother in a failed revolution, Maria Conchita Alonso travels to New York to seek the help of his old Vietnam war buddy Christopher Walken. With the aid of his old crew, some financial backers, and Alonso's rebels, they head to Colombia to overthrow the corrupt dictator and restore the freedom of their people.
The insurrectionist strategy in McBain is without doubt one of the oddest I've ever seen, and I'm a student of every revolution from the industrial to the Dance Dance. The process goes like this: 1) recruit four heavy-drinking fellow vets, 2) bully a millionaire into backing you by dangling him off a rooftop, 3) establish a beachhead, 4) win.
It's also one of the laziest revolutions out there. When Walken isn't relating anecdote after anecdote, he's looking on as peasants die by the dozens. Not that you can blame him for that--I hope they have more ideas for nationbuilding than for sloganeering, because they spend the whole damn movie chanting "libertad" until you have to think that brutal dictator should have given outright genocide a try.
Not that their plan goes off without a hitch. Early on, when they're looking for funding, they carelessly slaughter NYC drug dealer Luis Guzman's operation over pocket change, an act he rightly shames them for.
Yet if you can get past all that, and the atrociously unsubtle soundtrack, McBain has a certain charm. Its hopeful message is that you can accomplish good just so long as you're willing to dream big and explode even bigger. It's comforting to know there's no problem so insurmountable it can't be overcome with popular support and a crate of Stinger missiles.