Max, Adrian, and Shawn eavesdrop on a meeting about the military’s rescue plan.
The Rescue is the story of five military dependents — J. J. Merrill (Kevin Dillon), Adrian Phillips (Christine Harnos), Shawn Howard (Ned Vaughn), his younger brother Bobby (Ian Giatti), and Max Rothman (Marc Price) — living in the demilitarized zone between North Korea and South Korea. J.J., Adrian, Shawn, and Bobby are the sons and daughter of Navy Seals who are sent to destroy a disabled US intelligence submarine that has ended up in North Korean waters, so the North Koreans won’t be able to salvage it. The Seals complete their mission, but are are spotted and taken prisoner by a North Korean patrol before they can return to their base. After a standoff of over thirty days that becomes an international incident, a secret meeting of a task force that is planning the rescue of the Seals is held on the base. Max’s father, Admiral Rothman (James Cromwell), is in charge of the task force, and when Max overhears about the planned rescue, he excitedly tells his friends Adrian and Shawn about it. Of course Adrian and Shawn are very interested in hearing what is said in the meeting, and since it is chaired by Max’s dad, they persuade Max, who is handy with electronics, to plant a bug in the meeting. Max is successful, but unfortunately the kids overhear that the planned rescue mission is deemed too risky by the government. Outraged that their fathers are going to apparently be abandoned and subject to a showcase political trial for espionage, Max, Adrian, and Shawn decide to take matters into their own hands. They bring in J. J., who is not a friend, but since his dad is a member of the captured Seal team, feel he must be included. The four decide to mount their own rescue plan, and use the top secret plan that the government has prepared. Again they call on Max, who is able to break into the room where it is stored, open the briefcase, and copy all of the documents. After they study the plans, they decide go ahead with the rescue attempt, although there is much bickering among the four over who is actually going.
Max rigs Mrs. Phillips’ car to create a diversion so the others can steal a boat.
That night, Max disguises himself as Mrs. Rothman, so he can drive them off of the base in her car to get to the docks where J. J. is supposed to have a boat waiting. But when they get there, the boat is nowhere to be found: J. J.’s friend double crossed him. Their only option is to steal a boat from the dock and the one boat powerful enough for their needs belongs to some Korean underworld types. And there is another complication. Ten year old Bobby, who has been eavesdropping on the older kids, has stowed away in the trunk of the car, determined to be a part of the mission. Max creates a diversion by fixing the accelerator on the car and pointing it so it will drive into a nightclub where the gangsters are. Eventually this works, and the five travel the sea to North Korea. In the boat the kids start fighting among themselves again, undecided about whether to follow through with the plan now that there are five instead of three. Eventually they decide to go into North Korea, and drive the boat through in broad daylight. Soon they are spotted by a patrol boat, which proceeds to chase and fire on them, but by a fluke of good luck, the enemy boat crashes into a drawbridge barrier just after the kids barely get through and the Americans are able to get to Song-Ri, the town where the prison is located. The government rescue plan calls for the rescue team to meet up with an underground North Korean cell, led by Kim Song (Mel Wong). The five do meet up with Song, but he tells them that although he applauds their bravery to get as far as they have, he can’t help them continue (due to orders from Admiral Howard), and that he is returning them to the base at the DMZ in the morning. Again the kids decide to go through with the plan, even without the help of Kim Song and his men. So in the dark of night, they leave Song’s place and hike over to the ventilation shaft to enter the prison. The remainder of the film is about how they get into the base, rescue the Seals, and escape back to South Korea.
Max helps Bobby climb up a ventilation shaft.
While most reviewers seem to dismiss The Rescue as Reagan-era fluff, the film has a strangely familiar ring as this review is being written during the April, 2001 crisis between the United States and China over the downed spy plane. Certainly there is a lot of well-traveled territory here, with typical coming of age elements like the kid who bristles under the authority of his strict disciplinarian dad, then risks his life to save him, the techno-wizard kid who is able to beat the system, obtain sensitive Department of Defense information, then use it to accomplish something heroic, and the teenaged girl who proves that she is as capable and brave as any boy. The one thing in common that these young heroes definitely have is a tremendous lucky streak, as break after break goes their way. But why even try to take a film like this too seriously? The Rescue is an easy to watch action film that pretty much the whole family can enjoy and feel good about the ending. Violence is kept to a minimum and things work out for just about everyone except the North Korean military. Marc Price, Ian Giatti, Christine Harnos, Ned Vaughn, and Kevin Dillon all deliver credible performances as the determined young amateur commandos. Kids will enjoy watching Max, Adrian, and the others take on the military establishments of both countries and succeed, and parents can take comfort in the fact that the film portrays a bunch of kids willing to put everything on the line to rescue . . . their parents.
Max and Shawn provide covering fire at the prison.
The kids and their dads celebrate.
Throughout the different films reviewed on this site, we have seen chucks worn to cross the Sahara Desert, combat giant anaconda snakes on the Amazon River, chase after Nazi war criminals, and fight alien critters from outer space. So it was probably inevitable that they would be worn on a combat mission in a hostile foreign country. And that’s what we see in The Rescue. But the costumer for the film blew a great opportunity here to have these kids wearing camouflage chucks when they go on their mission. (In all fairness, camouflage chucks might not have been available in 1988.) Nevertheless, Max Rothman and Bobby Howard bravely wear their red and navy blue high tops all throughout this action/adventure as they seek to rescue the American Seals from the prison. The best sequence of shots is during the plane ride, when you see the distinctive look of their chucks really stand out against all of the camouflage and olive drab.
Bobby, Shawn, and Max watch the pursuing aircraft.
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