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Film / Navy SEALs

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"We go in there, we hit 'em and forget 'em. That's what we do!"
Lt (j.g.) Dale Hawkins, Second in command
"There is more to it than that."
Lt James Curran, Team Leader

Navy Seals was a 1990 Orion Pictures film starring Charlie Sheen, Michael Biehn, Bill Paxton, Rick Rossovich and Joanne Whalley, then wife of Val Kilmer. After the huge success the navy had with recruiting with Top Gun, they backed this movie too, hoping it would similarly drive up interest in the Navy SEA Ls. The screenplay was written by former DEVGRU (SEAL Team Six) platoon commander Chuck Pfarrer, who would go on to have some success as a Hollywood screenwriter, penning the scripts for Darkman, Hard Target and a few others.

This movie however, didn't have either the commercial and critical success of Top Gun, nor did it have the impact on recruiting that the navy hoped for. Their effort two decades later, Act of Valor would have more success. The movie revolves around a squad headed by Lt. James Curran played by Michael Biehn, which stumbles onto a large cache of Stinger shoulder fired anti aircraft missiles, while rescuing a captured Navy rescue helicopter crew. Unable to deal with the missiles at that time, the team spends the entire movie trying to find them. After seeking out the help of a television correspondent Claire Varrens played by Joanne Whalley Kilmer, the team first renditions a guy who may know the missiles' location. They finally launch a raid deep into the slums of war torn Beirut to neutralize the missiles and the terrorist group planning to deploy them.


A secondary plot concerns the personality clash between Curran who takes his job seriously, and his second in command, Lieutenant junior grade Dale Hawkins (played by Charlie Sheen) who is a thrill seeker that just enjoys a good fight. The two finally clash after a careless mistake results in a tragedy.

Tropes positively identified in this movie are:

  • Artistic License – Military: There were many, in spite of being Backed by the Pentagon and written by a former SEAL.
    • No navy ship calls itself the USN whatever. All of them are called USS ship name.
    • A team that is celebrating the nuptials of its platoon chief will be stood down. There was absolutely no need to page and activate all of them, since at that time, there were multiple SEAL teams, just on the East Coast. Some other team would have been active and ready to deploy.
    • For what Hawkins did on the Beirut snatch and grab mission, he should have been Court-Martialed, or at the very least, been expelled from the SEAL teams.
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    • The east coast SEAL teams are based in Little Creek, Virginia, not Norfolk.
    • A typical SEAL platoon has 12 people, 16 with EOD personnel attached. Curran's platoon only has 8 in the beginning. Also, there are two hierarchical levels - a troop commander (O-4) and a SEAL team commander (O-5) between a platoon commander and a captain (O-6) who commands a Special Warfare Group. So, there was no reason for that captain to be dealing directly with Curran.
    • The Secretary of Defense, CIA higher ups and the Chief of Naval Operations don't come all the way to Norfolk to talk to a SEAL platoon commander and chew him out. That discussion would have taken place in the Pentagon.
  • Autobots, Rock Out!: Since this movie was a clone of Top Gun, it even got a hard rock soundtrack, with songs contributed by Mr. Big (not that one) and Jon Bon Jovi (yes, that one). The track that plays while the surviving SEALs run to the beach in the end, sounds a lot like Deep Purple's song "Space Trucking".
  • Black Dude Dies First: Chief Graham.
  • Blood Knight: Hawkins, very much so.
    "Don't you take any responsibility? I told you NOT to leave that doorway! You lookin' for a fight? You lookin' for a rush, a little rush? Well, I hope you got it. Because you toasted a man you put in the grave!!"
  • Bloodless Carnage: At the end of the final fight Hawkins slices Shaheed's throat but there is oddly no blood shown when he dies.
  • Friendly Sniper: Dane, played by Bill Paxton.
  • Hero Stole My Bike: The SEALs steal a mercedes. And a green one at that! In Beirut.
  • Karma Houdini: For his recklessness and disobedience of Curran’s order, Hawkins should have been court martialed and shipped off to Leavenworth.
  • Mutual Kill: The team sniper Dane and a random terrorist.
  • Noble Male, Roguish Male: Curran and Hawkins. Curran takes his job seriously, while Hawkins is a womanizing thrill seeking Blood Knight party boy.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: When the team sets charges to blow up the Stinger missile cache, they bring down the entire building. And on the way out, they blow up an APC and a boat.
  • Suicidal Overconfidence: Some redneck in a bar tries to pick a fight with Leary the Combat Medic, when the squad is there commiserating Chief Graham's death. He does this, while Dane is still in uniform and displaying his SEAL trident. Going toe to toe with a naval commando who has received advanced unarmed combat training is a very bad idea. This guy still does it. Of course, this movie was made in a time when SEALs were still secret and obscure, and therefore didn't get the hero worship that they routinely get these days.
  • Your Mom: During a standoff scene between Hawkins, Leary and a terrorist holding a woman as a hostage, the terrorist tries taunting the SEALs in some foreign language.
    Hawkins: "What's he saying?"
    Leary: "Something about your mother."
    (cue Hawkins executing said terrorist with a Boom, Headshot!)
    Hawkins: "NEVER. Talk about mom."


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