Navy Seals (1990) – A Review


A review of the 1990 action movie Navy Seals starring Michael Biehn, Charlie Sheen and JoAnne Whalley-Kilmer

Navy Seals Charlie Sheen Michael Biehn 1990 movie

Michael Biehn and Charlie Sheen are out to protect the free world with their determined highly-trained skilled squad. They’re a close knit group of navy seals who in-between jumping out of planes, diving into the ocean and gunning bad guys share some friendly banter back and forth and find adrenaline rushes elsewhere.

So a lot of the time they might look like a pack of wild guys when wearing their civies, but once they strap on their gear they’re ready to rock and roll!

The slim plot goes as follows: While on a mission to rescue some captured Americans from some nasty terrorists they stumble onto a bunch of stinger missles that the bad guys are in possession of. Now this seal squad has to go back and get those missles out of the bad guys hands before they do very bad stuff with them.

Unfortunately the movie tries to add more shadings to the story – bureaucratic fumbling, journalistic ethics, military girlfriends – but none of that works and just bogs everything down. So let’s stick with the action part of this.

Charlie Sheen Michael Biehn Navy SealsYeah, there’s combat stuff that happens with our team shooting bad guys and running around. It’s not particularly exciting or memorable. Throughout the movie there’s no sense of a looming dangerous threat from these stereotypical terrorists and that it’s such a critical goal for the seals to take care of them.

Things just coast along with boring subplots and there’s sporadic average action stuff every now and then. There’s actually a lot less action than I would expect to see in an action movie called Navy Seals. There’s really not much more to say.

Navy Seals was not well received when it came out. It didn’t do much business and essentially got awful reviews. Surprisingly, its horrendous initial reception has only grown through the years and it has expanded its legacy into a popular punchline of a movie.

It’s certainly not the worst movie I’ve ever seen, but it’s still quite a lousy flick. Biehn is cool in the commanding/action roles he’s done before, but here he goes through the motions and his character is nothing special. Sheen is the young, arrogant, loose cannon of the group (not really much of a surprise). He does some idiotic stunts, reels off some awful dialogue and we’re meant to think he’s ultra-cool. I don’t know, it’s just a hot shot performance that you would expect to see from him.

At one point during a firefight Sheen actually quotes a line from Star Wars. It’s really forced and I always found that particular moment pretty eye-rolling. I didn’t find him even remotely cool.

The rest of the group is made up of a few recognizable faces (Bill Paxton, Dennis Haysbert, Rick Rossovich), but they’re not much of a presence and are mainly background characters. Even with the added backstory of Haysbert wanting to get married it comes and goes, it’s cliched and feels like a time waster while your tapping your feet anxious to get to some action.

Joanne Whalley Kilmer Navy Seals movie sexy hotJust as much of a time waster is Biehn trying to coherse journalist Joanne Whalley-Kilmer (as she was billed at the time) to spill any information she knows about these terrorists. It lasts for awhile, she eventually helps him, there’s a hint of some romance between Biehn and Whalley brewing then we never see her again.

I was always more aggravated by this than anything else in this flick since I have had a crush on Whalley for a long time and any opportunity to see more of her – plus the possibility of her dropping some clothes for a love scene – would surely have held my attention. As it is she comes and goes like the rest of this movie.

Ironically, I think Navy Seals tries to be too smart for its own good. It might have been more fun to see the guys simply go on smaller missions leading up to the big climactic one. Dump the politics, the unnecessary subplots, stop trying to complicate things and just have a very simplified story and focus on the action and the navy seals shooting bad guys.

It could have been a series of building block missions leading to the end. Each mission could have been a showcase for each of the renowned skills seals are known for. First we get a sea mission, then an air one, followed by a land assault. After seeing all that then finally we reach the last big one that puts all of them together, amps the action up and pulls out all the stops. Don’t worry about getting too fancy with story and motivations and all that, just have lots of ‘splosions.

Now that could have been more entertaining than what this movie ended up as.


4 thoughts on “Navy Seals (1990) – A Review

  1. I was working at Video Rental Store in Northern Virginia when this awful flick came out, and my assistant manager insisted on watching it at least once a week. The entire film stinks of testosterone- in one early scene, Walley-Kilmer's character is shocked by a live-fire demonstration and is grabbed by the shoulders by a grinning SEAL who is clearly getting off on the fact that he's got a frightened Little Woman there. And as we see in the trailer, the film practically starts with one of the SEALS making an incredibly stupid, pointless jump from a moving car off a bridge because….he doesn't want to go to a wedding, or something. This crap is so dated (it could only have been made in the Reagan/Bush era) it's not even funny.

    1. Hey, i grew up in Northern VA! Born in Fairfax, raised in Sterling, attended Broad Run (aka Cornfield High) & Park View for my last year. Lived only 9 miles from Leesburg in a little community called Sugarland Run, perhaps you've heard of it! You probably remember when Erol's was around….that place was awesome until Blockbuster bought it (bloody corporations!) 🙂

  2. Oh god, this movie! I served in the Navy for 8 years: this film was a joke in 1990 and it's an even bigger joke in 2014. And, yet, I would watch it any day of the week over all this SEAL TEAM direct-to-DVD bullshit that has been released in the past few years, as they have been designed to merely make the military industrial complex rich while also exploiting our serviceman. In fact, when I was watching ACT OF VALOR it made me realize we already had this movie and it was called TEAM AMERICA: WORLD POLICE. (Try playing the latter's soundtrack to ACT OF VALOR, it's hilarious.) If I want to watch Charlie Sheen blow up America's enemies, there is always the HOT SHOTS movies for that! 🙂

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