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The Pursuit of D.B. Cooper
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Reviews & Ratings for
The Pursuit of D.B. Cooper More at IMDbPro »

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7 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Not As Well Organized As Was Its Subject.

Author: rsoonsa ( from Mountain Mesa, California
17 May 2005

The subject of this work is the infamous D. B. Cooper, who high jacked a jet over Washington state in 1971 by utilizing a bogus bomb, collected $200,000 from the airline company, and then parachuted toward ostensible oblivion, evading one of the most extensive collections of law enforcement personnel in United States history. The production, burdened with serious problems from its outset, with directors John Frankenheimer and Buzz Kulik being replaced in turn by Roger Spottiswoode, is marked by obvious re-shooting as continuity is at times seemingly abandoned. Nonetheless, although flaws abound and logic is sparse, the film succeeds as entertainment, and since the fate of Cooper may ever remain unknown, recounting his story from whole cloth is suitable, with this version fashioned from American poet J. D. Reed's debut novel, "Free Fall". As action opens, Cooper (Treat Williams) is preparing to leap to hoped-for safety into forested Washington (played by Oregon), and he is seen as he eludes state troopers by hiding his bagged stash of 20 dollar bills inside of a freshly slain buck (Cooper jumped with, among his supplies, a collapsible rifle within his pack, and it is deer hunting season). Apparently, the only man capable of tracking the fugitive is Bill Gruen (Robert Duvall), the victim airlines' insurance company investigator and coincidentally the former Army Ranger instructor of Cooper, whose actual name is Jim Meade, and soon Gruen has trailed Meade to his home where he has joined his wife Hannah (Kathryn Harrold). Jim and Hannah head for Mexico, with Gruen close behind, as is one Remson (Paul Gleason), another former Ranger mate of Meade, with an agenda of his own, and subsequent events are stuffed with outrageous incident including a dangerous raft pursuit through Wyoming's Snake River rapids. As is no novelty, Duvall gathers in the acting laurels here with his nuanced reading as a persistent insurance company investigator. Because of its false starts, the film has too much dross to be effectively tidied up by Spottiswoode, but scoring by James Horner is consistently interesting, a musical blend featuring battling banjos, along with jew's harps, dobros, and other instruments of folkish characteristics that highlight British grounded whirligig dances. The D. B. Cooper high jacking is an incomplete story because there is no certainty as to his fate, and a variety of tales may be invented as a result; this one, in spite of its weaknesses, may be enjoyed on its own terms as it provides solid entertainment and a correctly ambiguous ending.

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8 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

Not The Memorable Movie It Should Have Been

Author: ccthemovieman-1 from United States
1 May 2007

As someone who likes chase scenes and was really intrigued by this fascinating true-life tale, I was optimistic heading into this film but too many obstacles got into the way of the good story it should have been.

THE BAD - I'm a fan of Robert Duvall and many of the characters he has played, but his role here is a dull one as an insurance investigator.

The dialog is insipid and the pretty Kathryn Harrold is real garbage-mouth. From what I read, there were several directors replacing each other on this film, and that's too bad. You can tell things aren't right with the story. I couldn't get "involved" with Treat Williams' portrayal of Cooper, either. He should have been fascinating, but he wasn't in this movie. It's also kind of a sad comment that a guy committing a crime is some sort of "folk hero," but I admit I wound up rooting for the guy, too.

Not everything was disappointing. I can't complain about the scenery, from the lush, green forests of Oregon to the desert in Arizona.

I'd like to see this movie re-made and done better, because it is a one-of-a-kind story.

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6 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

Not all that bad

Author: Tzin
10 September 2003

This film is just a long big chase scene and it's fine on those levels. Treat Williams is great in the lead and Kathryn Harrold is simply beautiful. Although it's doubtful that this film portrays what really happened to D.B. Cooper, it's quite enjoyable. My only problem with the movie is that there isn't much character development, but one of the best things about this movie is all of the beautiful scenery. From the green forests of Oregon to the raging rapids of Wyoming and to the isolated deserts of Arizona. It's all good and I suggest that anyone who can't find something to do for ninety minutes should watch this.

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Feel cheated

Author: burton611
11 December 2013

It's really hard to take this movie seriously, especially to anyone who is fascinated by the D.B. Cooper story. I think my biggest problem with the movie is that it just starts with Cooper jumping out of the plane. There is no stage of the actual highjacking and little realism of the jump itself (it happened at night time during a storm). During the actual highjacking, the bomb was not left behind by the highjacker and there was never a stewardess locked in a bathroom. The movie seems to be a parody of the events with a cheesy-hillbilly soundtrack. You almost expect a Jerry Reed/Cledus cameo or even Cheech & Chong at some point. My problem is they had the opportunity to do so much more with it and failed miserably. In recent years, the alleged highjacker was supposedly identified (see Brad Meltzer's decoded). I, for one, love the D.B. Cooper story and hope that someone will serve the story justice, but may be somewhat undeserving seeing as how the "Dan Cooper" who made the infamous jump literally flew from justice himself.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:


Author: dougdoepke from Claremont, USA
13 February 2011

Plays like a backpacker's version of Midnight Run (1988), with Duvall in the de Niro role and Williams in Grodin's. Except this one substitutes mindless action for character development and rust bucket jalopies for clever dialog. The result is more tiresome than funny, despite the attractive cast. In fact, Williams plays DB Cooper's part like it's all a big joke that only he thinks is funny—I agree with the reviewer who finds him way too cutesy. In fact, that could apply to the entire movie.

Worse-- any well-meaning viewer hoping for insight into the heist itself will be sorely disappointed. We see nothing of the crime except for the dramatic dive from the airliner. I suspect that's because threats to blow up the plane would have "serious-ed up" the movie. Then Williams' Cooper would no longer be humorous at all. The one worthy aspect links Cooper to army ranger training, seemingly apt preparation for such a daring wilderness crime.

The movie does have two scenic attractions. There's the great snow-capped panorama of Jackson Hole that keeps the eye entertained whatever the nonsense on the ground. Second is Kathryn Harrold's Hannah. In skintight jeans she presents another kind of natural grandeur that may give backpacking a whole new look. Despite the visuals, however, the topic deserves better than the third-rate Keystone Cops treatment it gets here.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Wish they had focused on the real story of Cooper

Author: udar55 from Williamsburg, VA
11 October 2008

Here is a fine example of some good ol' Hollywood exploitation. They took the story of famed airplane hijacker D.B. Cooper and decided to make it into a "what if..." scenario by adapting a fictional novel called "Free Fall." Talk about a missed opportunity! Cooper (Treat Williams) lands easily in the woods of Oregon. Just as easily, insurance investigator Gruen (Robert Duvall), whose company is out the ransom money, discovers Cooper is a former charge of his from the Army and begins his pursuit. If you can distance the idea that this is about D.B. Cooper, it is a pretty entertaining chase flick in the SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT vein. I'm sure they threw the Cooper name on there to get the public interested which is a disservice to the film itself. Co-starring Kathryn Harrold, Ed Flanders, R.G. Armstrong and Paul Gleason (in a really scummy turn).

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1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Forgotten Early 80's timewaster-halfway decent

Author: blackxmas from Georgia
18 October 2000

You could do a lot worse than this slight yet amiable what-if fest that speculates on just how D.B. Cooper got away with all that money. Robert Duvall shines as the insurance company's bounty hunter but Treat Williams comes off somewhat bland as the title character. He's just too boringly cutesy, if that makes any sense. Yet if you told me to choose between this and say RULES OF ENGAGEMENT, D.B. sure gets my vote.

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0 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

This movie is more a metaphor now (and when it was made) than anything representing reality...

Author: Joshua Clayton ( from United States
30 September 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Hey, in a way, this movie is the ultimate metaphor, for then and now, let me explain -- what "little guy" doesn't want to "beat the man" or whatever, that's what this movie was made for, that guy, that frustrated everyday working "little" guy who dreams of beating the big people who stick it to him day in and day out, and I have to agree with the last reviewer on Kathryn Harrold, she was hot-stuff in this movie, the cherry on top of the metaphorically good ice cream sundae that this movie is as the fun, exciting escapist romp it is. The very idea of this movie is one of the last for the "little guy" beating the "big guys" who stick it to him and knock him down. That's it.

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0 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

The Pursuit of D. B. Cooper

Author: nlmcm from United States
8 May 2005

Many who were adults in 1981 and slightly prior, recall the name D. B. Cooper, who hijacked a Boeing - 727, laden with passengers demanding a ransom, and will release them but keep the crew and plane, to be ordered to fly over the Rockies of his choosing.

Crew was ordered to stay in the front of the aircraft whilst D. B. Cooper was preparing for the jump, many investigators believed he was a former highly trained army specialist, ex-paratrooper and studied his preference of aircraft well.

He used the tail stairs to jump out of the plane, at night, and was never seen again. However, months later some people found some of the money near a small river or creek, and some believed he may have died of his injuries. Others claimed some money The Pursuit of D. B. Cooper is a story of what might have happened, at least one scenario was generated in this full chase scene by the Insurance Bounty hunter (Duvuall) and lots of bantering for some folks would simply put you on the floor.

The chase however goes both ways. Duvuall manages to locate the loot, for himself! Williams tries to find him through the use of a bi-plane and the chase begins again.

And it ends wildly, and certainly enjoyable for many. And remember too that D. B. Cooper back then was regarded as a folk hero.

It certainly should be considered a candidate for update or new release with different actors. Increase the action and the comedy, could be a hit.

In closing, Boeing and McDonald Douglas DC-9's, retooled all their aircraft of this configuration (rear stairs from the tail area) so that it could not be opened while in flight.

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2 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

Humongous waste of a great opportunity

Author: CarolHeron (FilmFreak) from Trenton, NJ
30 September 2004

This film was hard to get a hold of, and when I eventually saw it the disappointment was overwhelming. I mean, this is one of the great stories of the twentieth century: an unknown man takes advantage of the unsuspecting airline industry and GETS AWAY with millions in ransom without hurting anyone or bungling the attempt. With all of this built-in interest, how could anyone make such a lackluster, talk-laden flick of this true-life event. While Williams is always interesting, the screenwriters assumed that the D.B. Cooper persona was stereotypically heroic like a movie star, s what we get is a type-without any engaging details or insights into the mind of a person daring enough and clever enough to have pulled it off. Harrold practically steals the movie with her spunk and pure beauty, but the real letdown was in the handling of the plot and the lame direction. Shame on this film for even existing.

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