Friday, June 19, 2015

WTF? Firefox (1982)

                When “Firefox” was suggested as a possible participant in my dogfighting movies tournament, I had to consider watching it for the first time since it came out thirty two years ago.  I was only in my twenties when I first saw it and although normally a movie fan tends to be more tolerant in their earlier years of viewing, I clearly remembered being underwhelmed by the movie.  Since I have started this blog, I have sometimes found that I remembered movies too fondly, but I have rarely found that my first impression of duds was wrong.  Whenever I have not seen a war movie for decades, it was for good reason.  In this case, it would seem puzzling that I did not like it.  I am a big Clint Eastwood fan, I love air combat movies, and I enjoy James Bond.  “Firefox” is a combination of all three - so what’s not to like?

I didn't say the plane was not badass
                Clint plays Vietnam veteran fighter pilot Mitchell Gant.  He is suffering from PTSD (like all other cinematic Vietnam vets in 1980s movies) and living isolated from society in a mountain cabin (like all other cinematic Vietnam vets who are not committing crimes in the cities).  The Cold War is going on and Gant must come out of retirement to save the free world from a super weapon called the MiG-31 Firefox.  It can go Mach 6, is stealthy, and its armaments are thought controlled.  It’s also a Transformer.  (Well, in the remake it will be.)  In the grand tradition of movies, since Gant is a fighter pilot, he can thus fly any fighter plane. Even a unique enemy plane that he has never seen the inside of.  In the grand tradition of the recent “Mission Impossible” movies, no spy mission is impossible.  All he has to do is infiltrate the Soviet Union with cursory espionage training, avoid the KGB which is on to him, sneak onto the super secure air base, replace the test pilot, and escape with the plane.  Piece of cake! 

I don't even speak Russian,
but this disguise will get me onto
the super secure base
                “Firefox” makes the most implausible James Bond movie look like a documentary.  This is possibly the most ludicrous espionage movie ever made.  But it is not camp ludicrous, it’s just terrible ludicrous.  I can’t think of another Clint Eastwood movie that is more embarrassing than this one and to make it worse, he directed it, too.  He does not even act well in it.  His attempt to portray PTSD symptoms is laughable.  This is not as readily noticeable since the rest of the cast is decidedly second rate.  In fact, a huge percent of the budget went to special effects.  This was not money well spent because as I was watching the effects seemed cheesy.  Apparently I was a fool because the cinematography used a new technique called “reverse blue screen photography” which I have been assured is awesome, not lame.  Fooled me! 
People are going to pay to see this crap and some are
going to thing it's good!  I love my job.
Much of the plot makes no sense and not in an overcomplicated Cold War tale sort of way.  It’s just moronic.  By the way, the plot is actually based on the defection of a Soviet fighter pilot to Japan in 1976.  Clint would have been much better playing disgruntled instead of shell-shocked.  And maybe something could have happened that could have happened.  At least Eastwood did not have the cheek to label the movie “based on a true story”.  He would have been truthful if he had put in a warning “based on a ridiculous screenplay”.

GRADE  =  F-


  1. The plot device of a Vietnam veteran suffering from PTSD was already a cliche by 1982 (and "Gulf War vet with PTSD" is already a cliche now). I don't recall any logical explanation for why the CIA (or NATO or USAF or whoever) would recruit a retired Vietnam-era veteran instead of an active duty pilot who would be up to date on the latest aviation technology. Gant speaks Russian? So what? So do a lot of active duty officers and secret agents.

    It was very convenient that there were two prototypes, not just one, so that there could be an evenly-matched dogfight at the end. And the climax borrowed heavily from Star Wars, which, in turn, borrowed from 633 Squadron.

    1. Agree on all of that. Thanks. Also thanks for not mentioning the other ridiculous aspects of the film. Your comments would be longer than the review.


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