Get into your underwear, grab a bud, and chant: "U! S! A! U! S! A!"
Now you're ready for one of the last of the 80s US military recruitment drive movies (needed since the end of the draft, which is still on the books should they need it again).
This was to be the navy's continuation to recruitment to Top Gun (which saw a 500% increase).
It had the Tom Cruise look-a-like, Charlie Sheen.
It had the Val Kilmer look-a-like, Cyril O'Reilly.
It had the Kelly McGillis look-a-like, Joanne Whalley. Actually, they look nothing alike. She wasn't even blonde. Although she was married to Val Kilmer at the time, so maybe that was close enough.
We begin with the USS Forrestal, deployed in the Mediterranean, receiving a mayday from a cargo ship, under attack from a gunboat, on fire and adrift. A rescue helicopter sent is shot down and the crew are taken hostage. They then call in the SEALs to rescue them.
So the SH-3 chopper sent is a perfect choice for retrieval, it's been used for this purpose since the Vietnam war, and though it's normally armed, it is usually with countermeasures vs submarines.
But we also have the USS Forestal, a fully manned and armed supercarrier (the first of it's kind back in 1955), which at this point, has served more than a dozen tours through the Mediterranean.
It has over 5,000 crew members, many guns bigger than the whole gunboat that attacked the cargo ship, and most importantly, it's a carrier. It carries over 80 aircraft.
How did a piddly little gunboat get away with the chopper crew?
We then cut to a drunken SEAL team on their way to a wedding, where the token black guy is getting married. Just as the bride is walking down the aisle, they get the call and leave. (He was probably going to retire, too.)
Cut to an unnamed seaport, Syria, where the pilots have been taken. The boss is furious that his men have not only attacked a US chopper but brought the prisoners to their hideout. He orders the trucks to be loaded and the prisoners eliminated. (We later learn that he's talking about US missiles.)
One is shot in the head before the SEALs burst through the window and save the other 3, using what can only be called Hollywood silencers, because nothing in the real world makes bullets quiet.
Hawkins (2nd in command) disobeys 2 direct orders, firstly, even though he has a supernaturally quiet MP5, he uses a shotgun to breach a locked door, bringing the whole camp of about 50 soldiers on them (of what was supposed to be a soft target, according to intelligence), where they find the leader who is pretending to be a prisoner (he is left alive). Secondly, when told not to move from position, moves out in the open, alerting guards to their position, getting one team member wounded.
He does, however, stumble across a cache of ground-to-air missiles and tries to blow them with a grenade (which fails). They call them Stingers, probably because the general public are more familiar with the term, but they are actually FIM-43 Redeyes.
After extraction, they are debriefed by command, and Hawkins, who has disobeyed orders twice, causing one team member to be wounded, is given a slightly stern talking to.
Turns out the bad guy they left alive, Shaheed, is the leader of a terrorist group called Al-Shuhada (a thinly veiled name for Al-Qaeda, which would make Shaheed the equivalent of Osama bin Laden), who was also responsible for the bombing of the marine barracks, Beirut, 1983. (IRL, the attack was made by parties unknown, best guess is Hezbollah, a Shi'ite terrorist group funded by Iran (with permission from Syria, who occupied Lebanon at the time) after Israel invaded, leaving Christian troops in charge of South Lebanon.)
Shaheed's speech in an interview is good enough to repeat verbatim:
"You cannot invade our land and talk about security.
"You cannot send soldiers into our homes and talk about peace.
"You cannot kill a man's family and talk about human rights.
"If America kills our people, then our people will kill Americans."
For centuries, they were ruled by the Ottomans.
After WW1, they were ruled by the French. That rule was loosened during WW2 before they gained independance. They had 30 years of peace and prosperity. Then the Americans arrived.
The American-driven UN had decided on the split-up of the land of Palestine, which Israel was having none of, which sparked the Arab-Israeli war, which drove out the Islamic Palestinians, while America, France and Czechoslovakia sold arms to the Israeli Jews.
Lebanon has been in the middle of a war zone since, which culminated with a civil war (1975-1990). The French had constructed a parliament that favored the Christians. When Palestinians were forced to flee their homeland after the American-backed Israelis invaded, they ended up in Lebanon. Now the Muslims far outnumbered the Christians.
Fights break out between the PLO and Christian militias. By this point in Beirut, the city is already divided into religious zones.
Israel, Iran, Syria and the US all back different groups at different times. By 1990, there are 16 major factions at war in Lebanon (some of them are combined from smaller groups, numbering in the hundreds).
Meanwhile, back in the movie, the SEAL team leader, Curran (Biehn), just wants another chance to destroy the missiles. While his team is on R&R, he reads a book written by the woman who interviewed Shaheed, a half-Lebanese reporter who has contacts in Beirut.
Intelligence finds the missiles on a ship bound for Lebanon, so off they go again, only to find nothing on board the boat but boxes full of sand.
So Curran has lunch with the reporter, Claire. She figures he's after the US missiles, and gets invited for a tour of SEAL training, trying to convince her to rat out her sources.
After a civilian plane carrying a negotiator is taken down by one of the missiles, she agrees to share her intel. Along with information from Intelligence, they find a middleman who is also a previous informant. They decide to make it look like a kidnapping so they can buy his info. And off we go again!
They take off from Northern Cyprus, which is the closest democratic state to the middle east. Again, these little tidbits just give real insight into whoever wrote this script. They stay on a commercial route (as they know they'll be on enemy radar) for a secret jump along the way, 9km up and swim in 19km.
As per usual, the sort-of bad guy is watching american TV, because as we all know, everyone secretly loves the US (in this case, it's Mr. Ed).
Again, Hawkins disobeys a direct order and this time gets a team mate killed. It's Chief, the black guy. Of course it's the black guy.
Hawkins the psychopath (he gets a rush every time he kills someone) is slightly upset for about a day before he gets over it.
The missiles are located, this time in Beirut. They take the USS Coral Sea (again, another real life ship that has seen action the world over), land on the beach and meet up with local Amal militia.
(The Amal were Shi'ite Muslims backed by Iran, Syria and Libya. They were a major force in the civil war, fighting against Hezbollah, or in this movie, against Al-Shuhada, for control of Beirut.)
Their contact turns out to be one of the irregulars, just a kid in his teens. The war is summed up nicely when he takes point up to the Green Line, and points to different blocks.
Plane flies overhead. *points "Israel."
The Green Line was a demarcation point between Muslims and Christians, Druze and Alewite, Sunni and Shia. Green foliage grew all along it because nobody lived there. It was common for checkpoints at safe crossings and snipers to camp out along it's length.
This is a live war zone. And your enemies live 2 blocks away.
They finally find the building, sneak in and wire the missiles with explosives. They take the whole building down, probably killing multiple civilians in nearby buildings. They commandeer a car, get lost on the return to the beach, drive through a checkpoint and end up with an armoured personnel carrier chasing them.
Dane (Paxton, codenamed 'God'), the team sniper, is killed. *tears*
Curran is wounded and is carried by pretty much everyone at some point. He makes a great face after he's given morphine.
Rexen is killed while driving, rolling the car. As they get out, Leary uses the missile to shoot the BTR-152.
A note on the Redeye;
Back in the 70s and 80s, the CIA sold weapons to pretty much everyone (their allies and the enemies of their enemies. And their enemies were pretty much everyone at some point).
They also sold weapons to Iran for release of American prisoners.
They also did weapon drops for the contras in Central America of 200 Redeye missiles, almost none were accounted for. They also did weapons deals between Israel and the PLO. It's not a stretch to imagine that they sold some of their excess Redeyes and they ended up in Beirut. (Some also went missing from Belgium in the 70s).
But the Redeyes are ground-to-air, designed to take out planes. After launch their boosters kick in and are guided by infra-red and tail-chasing hot exhaust. It is notably not suitable for ground-to-ground fire. So we'll just chalk up that shot by Leary to pure luck.
They race out into the water where they're chased by Shaheed and his men. Playing dead, they manage to blow up his boat and Hawkins drowns Shaheed by showing how good SEALs are at holding their breath (2-3 minutes).
While treading water, their submarine rises next to them. U! S! A! U! S! A!