Bat 21

Film

War films

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<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>5</span>/5
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Time Out says

An unsatisfactory mix of low-key heroics, buddy-buddy humour, and anti-war sentiment, this downbeat Vietnam pic has reconnaissance expert Hackman (codename Bat 21) - a career colonel with no frontline experience - struggling to survive in a jungle crawling with North Vietnamese troops after ejecting from his plane. Making radio contact with spotter pilot Glover (codename Birddog), he maps out a coded route to a rendezvous. Cue for a cross-country hike punctuated by brushes with NVA patrols, a machete-wielding peasant, and an ambiguously angelic Vietnamese child. Certain scenes achieve a genuine tension, as when Hackman has to watch a captured chopper pilot sent into a waterlogged minefield by NVA soldiers; but this is immediately undercut by a retaliatory bombing raid that destroys a camouflaged NVA hideout, regardless of civilian casualties. Like the film as a whole, such scenes elicit sympathy more for the tacitly guilty Hackman than for the innocent victims.
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Release details

UK release:

1988

Duration:

105 mins

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<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>0</span>/5

Average User Rating

4.4 / 5

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Andrea L

Though not usually a fan of 80s action pictures as there tends to be unnecessary gore and swearing which only detract from the story (if it is relevent to explaining the severity of a situation, however, there is no harm) I only watched this to see Jerry Reed's performance. At the end of the movie, I was impressed. I think, though it apparently is not an accurate telling of the true-life events, it tells the story with more integrity and less cheap shock-value than many other modern war films. There are some quiet, introspective scenes, as well as quite disturbing war ones, but these are equally as important as each other. All actors turn in a fine performance, particularly Jerry Reed who portrays his character of Colonel Walker who commands the pilots and ground crew executing the rescue with dignity, portraying his reluctance and conflict as a man and as an officer, with humanity, integrity and respect. When you know that he served in the US Army from 1959-61, himself, you can see a degree of realism and genuine spirit that he brings to the role. He was also instrumental in getting this film made, seeing an article in a magazine, being interested in the story and taking things from there. This film is well worth a look. I will not touch on the story as others have given a satisfactory description. I will only say that this is a much more satisfying war film than many that have been made in the last 30 years.

ScottyDog

Bat 21 is based on the memoirs of Lt. Col. Iceal Hambleton who was shot down during the Vietnam war while mapping SAM sites for the Air Force. The real Iceal Hambleton spent 12 days evading the NVA and lost 40 pounds before being rescued by Navy Seal Tom Norris. Although Bat 21 is a bit touchy feely in some scenes, it is a great story about personal triumph and courage in the face of insurmountable odds. Bat 21 is based on the memoirs of Lt. Col. Iceal Hambleton who was shot down during the Vietnam war while mapping SAM sites for the Air Force. The real Iceal Hambleton spent 12 days evading the NVA and lost 40 pounds before being rescued by Navy Seal Tom Norris. Both were awarded the Medal of Honor. Although Bat 21 is a bit "touchy feely" in some scenes, but is a great story about personal triumph and courage in the face of insurmountable odds. The other review on this site says Hackman is some how guilty of gaining sympathy for the killing of innocent victims. This is patently false. Hackman’s character tried to stop the airstrikes because there were civilians in the village being used as cover or human shields by the NVA.

ScottyDog

Bat 21 is based on the memoirs of Lt. Col. Iceal Hambleton who was shot down during the Vietnam war while mapping SAM sites for the Air Force. The real Iceal Hambleton spent 12 days evading the NVA and lost 40 pounds before being rescued by Navy Seal Tom Norris. Although Bat 21 is a bit touchy feely in some scenes, it is a great story about personal triumph and courage in the face of insurmountable odds. Bat 21 is based on the memoirs of Lt. Col. Iceal Hambleton who was shot down during the Vietnam war while mapping SAM sites for the Air Force. The real Iceal Hambleton spent 12 days evading the NVA and lost 40 pounds before being rescued by Navy Seal Tom Norris. Both were awarded the Medal of Honor. Although Bat 21 is a bit "touchy feely" in some scenes, but is a great story about personal triumph and courage in the face of insurmountable odds. The other review on this site says Hackman is some how guilty of gaining sympathy for the killing of innocent victims. This is patently false. Hackman’s character tried to stop the airstrikes because there were civilians in the village being used as cover or human shields by the NVA.