This oddball flick showed up on late-nite programming fairly often in the early 90's. The demise of the Soviet Union--and it's loss as a defense industry boogie-man--has made red-scare films pretty passé. This effort by screenwriter Brian Phelan attempted to walk the line between bashing the Russkies and revealing US intelligence gathering techniques.
I found the film interesting for the latter aspect, as I once worked aboard the ferret planes depicted orbiting the Soviet coastline. Overall, I found the script in some cases surprisingly accurate in certain details about comint interception practices. Of course, there are the almost obligatory instances of scenery chewing for dramatic emphasis: notably the scene in the ops center where the resident linguistic "expert" has to interpret a communication intercept of critical importance, as if there is only one such person on station.
The actual details of what happened that night over Sakhalin Island will probably never be fully laid out in public. Wild speculation has been put forward by several authors as unvarnished truth. From my own experience, which definitely included the use of airborne surveillance aircraft to intentionally provoke Soviet air defenses, I have to think that was a major element in the affair that was never, for obvious reasons, fully examined. The political climate of Washington at that time, the eagerness of hotshot intelligence officers to boost their own careers at the cost of lives on the other side of the globe also goes a long way toward explaining the reckless decision-making portrayed in the film.
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