The jingoistic thrills promised by the original ads aren't much in evidence in this 1984 movie, which turned out to be a typically dark and moody piece of neo-Hemingway romanticism by John Milius (The Wind and the Lion, Big Wednesday). Milius doesn't approach his subject—a group of high school kids who wage a guerrilla war against the Russians in the early days of World War III—as an excuse for facile, Rocky-style payoffs. He's after something more mystical and poetic: a celebration of the moral victory of the noble warrior in defeat, which at least represents a more elevated brand of adolescent sentimentality than we're used to getting. Unfortunately the film is crippled by a chaotic narrative, indifferently directed action scenes, and a sticky Spielbergian subtheme on the holy innocence of childhood. More a botched film than an evil one, though some genuinely irresponsible projects followed in the wake of its commercial success. With Patrick Swayze, C. Thomas Howell, and Lea Thompson.
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