Firefox (1982)

I’m not a fan of remakes, but if there was one that I would get behind, it would be Firefox.

Directed by Clint Eastwood, this was one of the first grown-up movies I got to see on my own. For that there will always be a happy memory of this movie in my head, I even own it on blu-ray.

Adapted from the novel by Craig Thomas, who had written a series of techno-thrillers, Firefox tells the tale of Mitchell Gant (Eastwood), a pilot haunted by his time in Vietnam, and hiding from civilization in Alaska.

When the Russians develop a new plane, the Mig-31, a devastating war plane that has weapons that can be fired by thought, Mitchell is recruited by the government and a plan is put into place to get him into Russia, onto the base, and steal it out from under them.

Sounds pretty good right?

The film feels a little front-heavy, and moves rather slowly as Mitchell travels, undercover and in disguise, to the Soviet Union, aided by a network of spies and scientists, all the while his minders in the States and the UK work to outmaneuver the Soviet government who are beginning to suspect that something is up. It’s not enough to dissuade me from watching it over and over, I’m just warning you not to go in expecting a fast-moving story, this one starts out kind of slow, playing a fairly realistic spy game, and doesn’t really kick into high-gear until Gant is stealing the plane.

The pacing and editing of the first hour makes the film seem over-long, and even as a kid it seemed like it took way too long for Gant to get into the secret base, and eventually steal the Firefox.

In fact, even as an adult, all I wanted to see from the film is the cat-and-mouse chase Gant leads the Russian forces across the continent and over the Arctic.

The model-work is sweet, and the design of the Firefox is pretty awesome. However, not all of it works, nor does it all stand up, matte lines are easily apparent as the plane, and it’s predecessor chase one another across half the globe.

I do like the rear-projection work on the film through the windows of the plane, and the reflection in Gant’s helmet, that, to me, makes the flying sequences a little more believable.

I would love to see an updated take on this, with cutting edge special effects, a tight spy thriller with a healthy dose of aerial action thrown in!

The plane is still wickedly iconic and Eastwood is awesome as always… And while this film holds a wonderful sense of independence for me personally (me and my friend Shawn when to see this by ourselves at the Capitol Theater), it may not necessarily be his strongest or even his best film.

Which leads to my question for you, barring the Dirty Harry films, or any of Eastwood’s westerns… what are some of your favorite films with Cllint?

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