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Clint Eastwood plays Michael Gant, a burnt out veteran sent into the
Soviet Union on a desperate mission to steal the greatest warplane ever
Minimal training, mental problems, murderous allies, constant danger. His only qualification - he speaks Russian, he knows how to fly and he fits the flight suit.
What I like most about Firefox is how it really puts you in Clint Eastwood's shoes. His character Gant is no super spy - he's a war veteran suffering severe mental problems as a result of his POW experiences. At every twist and turn of the plot the movie captures his tension and fear. His inexperience and mistakes endanger him repeatedly. His only protection - a thin, unravelling web of deception and a fickle KGB desire to observe a little before pouncing.
A must see for fans of atmospheric espionage films and Clint Eastwood.
Firefox isn't your usual Eastwood film, he's almost branching out into Star Wars territory here with this Sci-Fi heavy Cold War Spy thriller. The effects like every 80's film have dated badly but for a movie made in 1982 they are rather good. Eastwood directs himself in what is a pretty average performance by his own high standards. The majority of the cast is made up by British character actors. Warren Clarke is really good but Freddie Jones and Nigel Hawthorne are pretty hammy. Also Raiders of the Lost Ark fans can spot Ronald Lacey playing Semelovsky a Jewish scientist. The first half of the film is a spy thriller and can be pretty nail biting at times as Clint gets his papers checked at regular intervals. Also he's suffering from the same post Vietnam War disorder that John Rambo had in First Blood and that really adds to the tension. The second half is more like Star Wars and is really great stuff. So better ice up at a cold one and enjoy Firefox for what it is, Cold War entertainment at it's best.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Every big star makes a few films like this one. Firefox is a film that
many will declare is for "Eastwood fans only". That is probably an
Looking at Firefox, you can see a film that suffers from awkward pacing, poor effects by today's standards, and some rather hammy performances by some of the supporting cast. Still, I find myself in the precarious position of having to recommend this film to all of you.
Firefox is not by any means a classic. It is however a nice snap-shot of a society so paranoid that its very existence almost suffocated its citizens. I am of course talking about the most murderous regime in modern history. The USSR. If anyone doubts this, please keep in mind that Stalin alone is credited with nearly 3X as many murders during his watch as Hitler.
The first hour or so of this film has Clint Eastwood sneaking around and being led around the Soviet Union by a network of underground spies. They are trying to get him out to a top-secret air base so he can steal a prototype of the most advanced fighter jet ever built before the Soviets can mass-produce it. Most viewers seem to find this first hour pretty boring, and maybe they are right. Other than Clint walking through parks, hastily jumping on trains, and hitching rides in delivery trucks, not much happens. I don't think the first hour is a total waste, though. In it, we get an incredible feel for just how oppressive the USSR was back then. At almost every turn there are slimy KGB agents in cheap leather jackets jumping out and demanding "papers" from anybody unlucky enough to be out in public at that time. I lost count of how many times people were forced to show their "papers" in that first hour. The paranoia of the Soviet government is well on display in these scenes.
Once Clint gets to the plane, the movie takes off: literally. Clint is then forced to fly the plane out of Soviet air space and find a re-fueling spot in the Arctic Ocean where a US sub will be waiting for him. Even though this plane is impossible to detect on radar, it's still a difficult task to avoid all the other Soviet aircraft and ships. Clint also gets into a dogfight with another Firefox which is sent up after him. Since the effects involving these planes look dated, you have to suspend your disbelief and just sit back and enjoy it all as best you can.
I liked most of the acting in this film. Freddie Jones was over-the-top, though. Clint was about as timid as I've ever seen him, but he was supposed to be. His character suffers from constant flashbacks of his Vietnam days where he had been shot down and held prisoner for a while. You have to wonder why such an unbalanced man would be chosen for such an important mission, but they at least try to explain that early on. It seems that the Air Force believes Clint's condition only occurs when he's on the ground, but we find that not to be the case once he's in the dogfight with a more experienced Soviet Col.
Warren Clarke (who you might remember as the big dumb lug in Alex's gang in A Clockwork Orange) is outstanding as the primary underground spy who helps Clint get where he needs to go. I also loved that dirty old Soviet "First Secretary" who threatens Clint once he steals the plane. Those hapless individuals who played the Jewish scientists at the air base were very good in their roles, also.
If you love Eastwood and haven't seen this film, please do. If you don't really care about him but want to take a closer look at the old USSR, this will work for you, too.
I'll give it 8 of 10 stars.
Clint, you should have killed that Soviet Col. when you had the chance in the locker room!!!!
So sayeth the Hound.
During the height of the Cold War, the Soviet military develops a super
high-tech fighter aircraft - it flies fast, has deadly weapons, and has
technology that allows the pilot to control guided missiles with his
mind. Basically any army with this baby in its arsenal will have air
superiority. Clint is assigned to steal it from the heart of Soviet
territory for the USA.
The plot is fairly generic and in this day and age most Cold War thrillers have seem to have lost much of their edge, but this is nonetheless an entertaining film from Eastwood. It is not one of his best and not one that he will be remembered for, but no one can deny the slickness of the plane of the title. The final section of the film, which admittedly does take a while to get to, has Clint flying around and raising hell is a fun ride and on par with the final chase in "Where Eagles Dare" in terms of entertainment. However, the buildup has enough suspense to make the whole movie worth a watch. 7/10
Rated PG: violence
The only reason I bought this movie is it related to the USSR. It's quite explicit on the image my country had out there. I can only guess why Soviet propaganda ignored it's existence giving enough attention same time to Rambo, Rocki IV and Red Dawn. Most of the above mentioned movies makes you rather laugh on the "accuracy" of Russian characters and soldiers in particular. Firefox is outstanding in this respect. All uniforms, guns and insignias are just OK if not to say perfect! Living not far from one of the metro stations (Kolomenskaya) adds certain thrill while watching it. Otherwise nothing special. Checking the E-bay for this DVD you get quite a low price which speaks for itself.
"Firefox", while definitely dated, is a good Cold War spy thriller that
falls far short of being great. Clint Eastwood plays Mitchell Gant, a
burned-out Vietnam fighter pilot who's enlisted to steal a high-tech,
heavily-armed, stealth Soviet fighter plane right out of its Siberian
hangar. The first half of the film is a John le Carre type thriller Clint
sneaking into Moscow, assuming a Soviet pilot's identity, and making his way
to the experimental Firefox fighter craft. The second half, when he climbs
into the cockpit of the Firefox, is where the real fun
While entertaining, the film isn't particularly great apart from Clint's gritty performance as Mitchell Gant, none of the other actors manage to stand out in any way. The jet fighter sequences also haven't stood the test of time they looked great in the Eighties, but now they just look dated and unrealistic. Certain scenes in the film are little more than padding, buying breathing room between action scenes and doing little else. There's enough tension and action scattered throughout the film to make `Firefox' fun, but there's much better Cold War movies than this (`The Russia House' and `The Hunt for Red October' easily come to mind), and there's certainly much better Clint Eastwood movies than this. B-/C+
This was so-so, one of those films that could have been much better had
the editing been tighter, in this case in the first 90 minutes. About
20 of that could have been cut. As it was, it took too long for the
action to kick in, and was a bit confusing in parts.
Once Clint Eastwood started getting near the plane he was going to hijack the film picked up immensely.
Even though the movie was made 25 years ago, the fighter plane still looks pretty awesome: a combination of a Stealth and Concorde. Too bad this wasn't made today with some great DTS sound. Perhaps a re-make of this would be the answer.
I'm not sure whether Firefox is really a guilty pleasure or simply a
film I remember as being one. It's certainly overlong and overfamiliar
despite its neat Maguffin Clint Eastwood's flashback-plagued Vietnam
vet fighter ace has to steal a state-of-the-art warplane with a
thought-controlled weapons system (as long as you remember to think in
Russian) from the heart of the Evil Empire but it has a sort of
undemanding Cold War charm that the constant stream of clichés only
reinforces. Even the old school model effects in the final
chase-and-dogfight section are more fun in their way than modern CGI
effects, especially when the Firefox is leaving a wall of water in its
wake as it races across the sea or causing fallen snow to fill the air
as it passes over the mountains, so it's a shame that much of the last
third is played in darkened control rooms rather than the skies.
The Russians, naturally, are mostly played by British actors, albeit in this case actors best known for their sitcoms, which adds a different dimension to their scenes as comically humourless KGB types or lemming-like dissidents only too happy to die for the cause, or incorrigible hams like Freddie Jones who simply look like they SHOULD be in a sitcom. There's even an almost admirable perversity into giving most of the explanatory dialogue in the last half-hour to Klaus Löwitsch, an actor with a shaky grasp of spoken English who sounds like a bumblebee caught in a vacuum cleaner pipe. Not good by any means, but strangely watchable, and Maurice Jarre contributes an enjoyable score from the days before he disappeared entirely into atonal electronics.
The Region 1 DVD is the uncut theatrical version before Clint re-edited and trimmed the film by some 12 minutes without visibly improving it, although the Region 2 PAL DVD is the cut version.
Did that title grab your attention?
Well, this film did it for me.
"Firefox" is without a doubt one of the best non-Dirty Harry movies I have ever seen Clint Eastwood star in. And I've seen quite a few.
As Mitchell Gant, Clint helps the US smuggle a super-secret Russian fighter craft out of its hangar deep in the heart of Russia and fly it over to our side. Of course, it's not as easy as it sounds, what with Gant having recurring flashbacks to a harrowing experience in Vietnam (PLOT POINT - why did they have an obviously traumatized vet like Clint head up a sensitive assignment like this? Oh well....).
In fact, there are two stars to this one. Clint, of course, and that sleek, black dream machine of a MIG that he commandeers. The scene where the camera and Clint circle the plane is almost like a car commercial (all that's missing is Ricardo Montalban talking about its 'rich Corinthian leather' interior).
Other than the loving detail between the two leads, however, everyone else is either an empty-headed caricature or an overplayed buffoon. Either way, it's just filling time until Clint and his ride meet the next harrowing obstacle they must overcome. And there's quite a few.
Does Clint finish the job in the end? Is all made safe for the Cold War-era world as we know it? Did Clint direct and produce as well as star in this one? Yep, so I think you know the answer already. But it's not the destination as much as the trip getting there, if you know what I mean.
Nine stars and a side of borscht for "Firefox"; the best movie ever made in which Clint speaks Russian.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I took my username from this movie, so I guess I like it...
I like it more than I should, though. The Craig Thomas novel it's based on is tense and exciting, a cat-and-mouse game between Gant and the Soviet authorities both on the ground and in the air, but despite much of the dialogue being taken almost verbatim from the book the movie is sluggish and decidedly lacking in thrills. The first half of the film drags terribly, and Clint is a granite-faced cypher who displays none of the fear and tension felt by his character's literary counterpart.
The Firefox itself is an interesting design (to which the planes from Stealth bear more than a few similarities despite the 20+ years between the two films), but apart from a handful of shots the special effects looked dreadfully fake even back in the Eighties, never mind now. (The best special effects are ones that very few people will ever notice - *all* of the Soviet helicopters seen in the film are models.)
So why do I like it so much? Probably because it's one of very few true technothrillers to reach the screen. There are no romantic interludes or comic-relief sidekicks or any other distractions of the type so often forced in by studios - it's all about the mission. Get in, steal the plane, get out. The grim, monolithic, paranoid nature of the Soviet state also comes across well, giving the film a distinctive atmosphere. Gant enters a grey, joyless world where everybody is watching everyone else, the first flashes of colour coming - intentionally, I'm sure - when he finally steals the Firefox and soars away into the dawn sky.
One amusing note is that the film's most famous line - Baranovich's exhortation, in echoing flashback, that Gant must "Think in Russian!" was added after shooting - along with the previously unmentioned 'rearward missile' - because test audiences didn't understand what the Rearward Defence Pod was, despite it having been used earlier in the film and even described by one of the Russians!
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