People have written about Michael Biehn’s notable Navy SEAL performances – but usually only scratch the surface. I want to take a closer look at our finest Navy SEAL thespian. Why? Because he freakin deserves a closer look.
One of my first encounters with Biehn came with the movie “Navy SEALS.” I saw this movie in 1990, and for most of my high school years this was one of my favorite movies, in fact – my best friend from high school was the best man in my wedding and his speech was about the movie “Navy SEALS.” Hopefully that gives you a sense of how awesome I think this movie is. Anyways, Michael Biehn plays Lieutenant James Curran, commanding officer of a platoon of SEALS.
I am going to give you the top 3 reasons why this movie was awesome.
- The movie was made in 1990 and predicted the future, in a nutshell a bunch of Navy SEALS end up tasked with taking out a radical, fundamentalist, terrorist leader. If that doesn’t sound familiar, please tell me what it was like under that rock you have been living under for the past year?
- Charlie Sheen was given free rein to be Charlie Sheen – example, he jumps off a bridge to avoid attending a wedding, example two, he chases a tow truck on a bicycle to liberate his towed convertible, example 3 he STEALS a date with Beihn’s lady and then has the gall to say, “Trust me with your life, but not your girlfriend or your wife.”
- The movie ends with a 45 minute combat scene which involves about 200 fatalities, the good guys winning and getting rescued at sea by a submarine after blowing up half of Beruit.
He probably would have been #1 on my Navy SEAL list even if he never made another movie like this. However, this was at least his second (and I am about to argue) by some definitions his FOURTH Navy SEAL-like performance. Biehn plays the driven and pressure sickness effected Lt. Hiram Coffey in the movie “The Abyss” which was released in 1989. In that movie he does several awesome things, including nearly kicking Ed Harris’s ass (we will come back to this).
So he had that under his belt, but in 1986 he was Cpl. Dwayne Hicks in the FANTASTIC movie “Aliens.” By the way “Aliens” is one of my top 10 all time favorite movies. So you say wait a minute, he wasn’t SEAL in “Aliens” he was a Colonial Marine. Ok, well let’s look at the definition of a Navy SEAL. According to Dictionary.com the definition of a Navy SEAL is “a member of a Naval Special Warfare unit who is trained for unconventional warfare; “SEAL is an acronym for Sea Air and Land” Well “Aliens” takes place in 2179, and the “Navy” is no longer at sea. The Marines are part of the Navy, and what Hicks and crew were doing in “Aliens” was “unconventional warfare.” So that is going on the SEAL column for me. Incidentally, Bill Paxton is also a Colonial Marine in “Aliens’ alongside Beihn as he was a SEAL alongside Biehn in “Navy SEALS.”
In the movie “Terminator” which takes place in the 1980’s and in the post-apocalyptic future circa 2029, Biehn is Kyle Reese. Reese is sent back in time by the rebel leader (who turns out to be his son?) John Connor to save Sarah Connor, and presumably to conceive John Connor? Anyways, he is a rebel commando who was trained for unconventional warfare at a time when there was no Navy, so again I have to give him the nod here on SEAL performance – though this may be more of a reach.
That puts Biehn’s SEAL total to 4 by 1990. The guy wasn’t finished, in 1996 Beihn plays Commander Charles Anderson, in the movie “The Rock.” In this role he commands a platoon of SEALS tasked with liberating Alcatraz from a rogue Brigadeer General played by, wait for it, Ed Harris! They square off again. One of the best quotes ever is in the scene where Beihn and his crew get wasted by Harris’s mercs. Cmdr. Anderson says:
“Sir, we know why you’re out here. God knows, I agree with you. But like you, I swore to defend this country against all enemies, foreign, sir… and domestic. General, we’ve spilled the same blood in the same mud. And you know god damn well I can’t give that order.”
C’mon folks, “we’ve spilled blood in the same mud!” How F’ing bad ass is that!?! At 5 SEAL performances I have him on the top of a prestigious leader board as the best Navy SEAL actor of all time. I don’t think anyone is ever going to touch him. I thought Bruce Willis was good in “Tears of the Sun,” some people would say that GI Jane featured some great SEAL performances (I am not one of those people). Seagal was amazing in “Under Siege.” So I am enthusiastically awaiting the movie “Act of Valor” which is all about SEALS. This movie is slated to come out next year.
What do you think? I recognize that my Terminator argument is pretty flimsy, but are folks willing to give me “Aliens?” Anyone disagree with Biehn’s place in SEAL lore? What was his best SEAL role? I will probably write another post on some of the other awesome roles he has had. I think he is one of the more underrated action actors out there.
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