on April 13, 2013
Clint Eastwood is well known for his western style movies,as well as some other later on in his career, but this one
stands out because he portrays a American pilot (Mitchell Gant) that sneaks behind Soviet border to carry out a dangerous
mission. That mission is the hijacking of the latest MIG-31 stealth fighter, one that the Americans want to examine, and
Gant barely escapes the clutches of the KGB, only because he is able to speak Russian. He befriends a couple of scientists on the advanced fighter project that have past issues with the Soviet regime.
Gant manages to commandeer one of the two Mig-31 prototypes and just gets airborne before the real test pilot gets into the second prototype to chase him in an arial dogfight. The dogfight sequence is basically similar to Top Gun, and Gant barely escapes intact from that to land and refuel on the frozen Artic icepack, (serviced by an American submarine). as the Russians catch up with them. (The arial dogfight sequence was the basis of a commercial video game a few years ago),
When this movie came out in the early 80's, most of us kids didn't like it. We wanted more high-flying action and explosions. With the benefit of a few years and hindsight, Firefox is an adequate, moody cold war-era drama with just enough Top Gun action at the end. I read the novel first, on which the movie was based, and loved it even though my 10 year old self didn't know what a "cold war" was.
Here's your basic plot. The Brits have discovered that the Soviets have successfully developed a jet plane that is invisible to radar; in effect a stealth fighter (although that term isn't used in the film). In addition, they have learned about one more grim technological advance. The weapons systems of this plane, the Mig-31 code-named "Firefox", are completely brain activated. Think it, and the Firefox will fire it. This will give the pilot an edge over any conventional plane, split seconds needed in air combat.
Mitchell Gant (Eastwood) is a Vietnam vet who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, giving him uncontrolled non-epileptic seizures in times of stress, or if he experiences sensations that remind him of the carnage he witnessed. He, however, can fly the plane and speak perfect Russian. He is the only choice the Americans have. Choice for what? Simple really. The way to keep the Russians from having this advantage is to steal a plane and reverse engineer it.
Roughly half in the film is espionage -- Gant making contact in Russia, assuming identities, escaping the KGB. The second half is 80's-quality air combat action. Aside from some matte lines and over-lit models, these scenes are pretty cool as the Firefox skims the snowy Ural mountains.
While Firefox is a slow moving film, with some poor Russian accents, I found it to be an interesting and intriguing movie. It won't go down as Eastwood's best or most exciting, but for cold war-era drama, this is tops.
Note -- look for a couple supporting actors you may recognize from some big Lucas films!
on June 7, 2003
Clint Eastwood hasn't done too many military or spy movies, and it was fun to seem him tackle the genre. Clint plays an ex-Air Force fighter pilot named Mitchell Gant who had some bad experiences in Vietnam and is enjoying his retirement on a ranch. He is recruited by a international espionage ring who already have a top-secret mission ready for him. He is to sneak into the Soviet Union and with the help of persecuted Russian Jews, steal the Soviet's newest and scariest fighter jet, the MIG-31, codenamed "Firefox". But the KGB is on his tail from minute one, only they don't know yet exactly why he is there. All heck breaks loose once they find out why, but it's too late. Gant is up in the air at the controls of the plane and it's telepathic weapons system. After a refueling stop on an ice sheet where an American sub is waiting for him, he takes off and has to contend with a Russian fighter ace flying the only other Firefox in existence. Will Mitchell Gant make it back to American soil? Watch the movie to find out!
on July 20, 2001
What's so amazing is the insight and forward thinking that went into this film. Yes the first portion of the film is slow, but so is about 99% of espionage and air combat. I've said it before and I'll say it again: When Hollywood actually shows this stuff realistically, the audience gets bored or sleepy because they do not appreciate authenticity. Back to the insightfulness... Well, over here on the Nellis Test Range, and yes I'm specifically talking about Area 51, they fly very special "aggressor" squadrons that use actual Soviet aircraft. Guess where they got them. Some were defected and some...drum roll...were stolen with the help of U.S. clandestine services. Furthermore, information on U.S. stealth programs was not public when Firefox was made. A Russian scientist is actually the guy who developed the equations that predicted "low observability", and his government spent a while looking into the concept, though not until recently very seriously. The Russians also had a weird preoccupation with the paranormal, telekinesis, and, yes, biofeedback. These uncanny pseudo-recreations in Firefox, combined with the believable depiction of the closed nature of Soviet society and their "secret bases" where R&D took place makes for a sci-fi/spy film with an air of authenticity, in spite of its fictional traits. I also like the great repertoire between Gant and the Sub captain. It strikes me as being very true to life with its representation of automatic camaraderie and unspoken understanding between the two characters. I look forward to this film's release on DVD.
on March 25, 2001
I loved "Firefox" the novel and the sequels which return the great charachter of Mitchell Gant. Unfortunately, Gant's charachter (and Thomas' writing) doesn't transfer well to film. In "Firefox" Gant has been plucked by the CIA out of retirment after suffering physical and emotional scarring in Vietnam. (Readers from the novel will remember that Gant had been plucked out earlier to fly captured Russian warplanes in mock combat, but the film streamlines the details). When the Russian Air Force develops a super-advanced fighter plane that is a) invisible to radar; b) capable of mach-5+ speeds; c) armed with a thougt-controlled fire-control system and d) way ahead of anything available in the west, the CIA and British SIS collude on a foolhardy and almost plan to send Gant into Russia to steal it. With the help of Jewish dissidents and the virtually imprisoned scientists working on the plane, Gant breaks into the Russians' high-security test site in a mad rush to steal the plane. Like the novel, the film is split into two parts - getting to the Firefox and then getting it to the west. The second half - dominated by pre-CGI special effects - seems pretty weak, although knowing how cartoonish CGI can be, I've learned to appreciate it. The first half - in which Gant steals his way through the nightmare of the police-state of Russia - is very slow, and probably of little interest if you didn't read the book. "Firefox" (both book and film) excel though because they don't try to follow your typical technothriller routine - steely eyed heroes and all. When confronted by a bullying KGB agent in a subway, and informed that his papers aren't in order, Gant kills the man. For your stock secret agent, this would be a moment of pluck and quick thinking, but for Gant, it's a moment of outrageous stupidity: the KGB man was reaching, not for his gun (or a wallet) but for his cigarettes. ("Ofcourse your papers aren't in order!", Gant is roundly drubbed by his Russian co-conspirator, "nobody's papers are in order, this is Moscow!!"). Every aspect of the plan goes awry, although that was clearly in the minds of the planners who, knowing the odds, thought they'd be sweetining their chances if they made included self-destruction at every juncture. It's a thrill ride, and made during the darker days of the cold war (Reagan's 2nd year, the USSR ruled by a sucession of dying old men) and populated by almost bloodless charachters, the movie at times looks like a documentary. The meat of the book doesn't really translate well because, like most of Thomas' books, the prose are based on high speed pulses of self-loathing and second guessing running through the minds of the central charachters' minds, and that doesn't make for scintilating dialog (or any dialog, really). It's like those superhero cartoons when Superman must actually orate all those things that, in comic books) stay in thought baloons. The film makers are game though, especially Eastwood who makes the Mitchell Gant charachter his own (I can't read any of the Mitchell Gant novels like "Firefox Down" or "Winterhawk" and substitute a more appealing visage for Gqant's scarred one). The film also has Kenneth Colley as the ill-fated Col. Kontarsky, the man responsible for securing the super-plane that Gant steals. Star Wars fans will remember him by site as the similarly bad-lucked Admiral Piett, the guy who keeps losing the Millenium Falcon thruought "Empire Strikes Back" (which came out 2 years earlier). The way he looks, you'd think Yuri Andropov would materialize out of nowhere and zap the dark-side at him.
on December 21, 2000
Clint Eastwood directed and starred in "FireFox," and he did a good job at both parts. Clint stars as a retired military pilot who is called on to go to the Soviet Union and steal a powerful plane that the Russians built called a Firefox. He has been retired for three years, but the military wants him to be the pilot that tries to steal the Russian Firefox because he's the best pilot they've ever had and he is fluent in speaking the Russian language. Clint Eastwood must pretend to be other people and watch his every step while he's in Russia if he wants to have a chance at capturing the Firefox.
"Firefox" is a great suspense and action movie. The plot and the scripts are well done and the whole movie is exciting, especially when Clint Eastwood takes to the controls of the Firefox and tries to elude the oncoming and attacking Russians. The airplane flying sequences in the movie are lightning fast and they're superbly done. The good acting in the movie by everybody and the great flying/action sequences make "Firefox" a classic in my book. If you like other Clint Eastwood movies or great flying movies, I recommend getting "Firefox." So fire those engines up and find the Firefox!
on January 5, 2002
Dull and slow moving action and i do mean SLOW! as it can get.
No doubt in my mind Clint Eastwood thought it would be a good idea to direct and star in an rather unstructred story concering a former Army Pilot still suffering from the horrors of vietnam
is pressed back into action by the goverment to go into the U.S.S.R And steel a highly sophistcated jet the americans belive
will be used against them. It's obvious eastwood liked what he
saw in Star Wars and thought he could a blend of Sci-Fi-James Bond in 2 hours with Eastwood looking like a total fool in array of disguises. It was a real dissapoinment To see a true acting
legend succumb to his own shamefull descions. The real problem
with the film is that it was way overlong and streching the
viewer's crediabilty for far too long to be actually enjoyed.
on August 18, 2002
After recently buying the VHS version of the movie, I knew I was buying a good movie, but I had forgotten how brilliant it was.
Although it is predictable to a certain degree, the way the plot and action unfolds keeps you thoroughly entertained. Clint Eastwood does well in a role that is out of character for him - someone who has to follow orders to the T. The only downside to the movie is the dated special effects. But the music which is used when we first see the 'Firefox' makes up for it by giving the plane a menacing character.
A final word to Warner Bros - judging by the quality - or lack of it - released on DVD from the same period, I cannot see why you guys have not launched a DVD. We are missing it out here.
on February 15, 2001
AS A KID, I LOVED THIS FILM, AS A MATTER OF FACT I PROBABLY SAW THIS ONE ABOUT 50 TIMES AND I DONT EVEN OWN A COPY OF THIS FILM. NOT A BORING MOMENT IN THIS ONE. CLINT EASTWOOD AS THE RUSSIAN-SPEAKING SOLDIER WAS COOL AND THE PLANES WERE INCREDIBLE. THE PROOF OF THE GREATNESS OF THIS FILM LIES IN IT'S SIMPLICITY IN OUR MATRIX-SGI OBSESSED MASSES OF THIS CENTURY, FIREFOX DIDN'T HAVE TO USE SUPER EFFECTS TO SELL TICKETS(LOVE THE MATRIX THOUGH) I CAN GUARANTEE THAT I WILL UPGRADE THIS ONE TO A 5-STAR, ONLY WHEN IT'S RELEASED ON DVD!!!!!
on February 27, 2004
This was Clint Eastwood's second dip into the waters of the espionage thriller (the first was the awful "Eiger Sanction" back in 1975), and one of the few films he directed which relies heavily on visual effects. As a director, Eastwood seems uneasy with both modes, which go against the grain of his realistic, tough, and often stoic & silent directorial style. Nonetheless, "Firefox" works better than it should. Eastwood brings understated realism to what might have been a hopelessly hokey Cold War techno thriller, and the visual effects-laden last third is fairly exciting. However, the mixture of elements ultimately produces only an adequate film, a strange entry in Eastwood's long string of hits.
The plot is a Tom Clancy story before there were Tom Clancy stories (this is based on a novel by Craig Thomas). The Soviets (remember them?) have developed a super fighter jet, the Firefox, with thought-controlled weapons system. The Firefox threatens the balance of power in the Cold War, so NATO needs to get their hands on it, pronto. The only man who can do it is pilot Mitchell Gant (Eastwood). He speaks fluent Russian, can infiltrate the base with the help of Russian Jewish dissenters (played by Ronald Lacey, Nigel Hawthorne, and Warren Clarke), and has the skill to fly the Firefox. Only problem: Gant is highly unstable from his Vietnam experience, is prone is nasty flashbacks (a problem if you're flying a though- controlled plane!), and has done no undercover work before.
"Firefox" is overlong at 136 minutes, and tends to drag with far too many scenes of Russian and NATO boardroom arguments. The film works best in the early parts during the scenes with Lacey, Hawthorne, and Clarke, who all give fine, sentimental performances as double agents who know they are doomed but struggle on for what they know is right. In a few place, Eastwood shows traces of the later themes of the consequences of violence that would mature in "Unforgiven" and "Mystic River." Eastwood himself is fairly good in the role, avoiding any "Dirty Harry" clichés or relying too much on his tough guy image, but he does look rather silly in his undercover disguise scenes.
Nonetheless, it does seem to take forever until the last third, where the Firefox tries to blaze an almost hopeless escape trail out of the Soviet Union, with another Firefox prototype on its tail. The effects (by John Dysktra of "Star Wars" fame) are zippy and fantastic, but any human element left in the film pretty much bails out at this point. Enjoy the planes, enjoy the speed, enjoy Clint just staring out the window and not moving much. It's fairly exciting, but when it's all over, you'll feel a bit let down.
The DVD, like most Warner Bros. discs in the Clint Eastwood Collection, looks very good, and the sound is 5.1. But also like most Warner Bros. discs in the Clint Eastwood Collection, there are no extras.