Quick Take: A pilot is sent into the Soviet Union on a mission to steal a prototype jet fighter that can be partially controlled by a neuralink

Eastwood, Clint

136 minutes
running time

year released



Phantomís Rating...

Phantomís review: Firefox is a Clint Eastwood film worth mentioning. The first three-quarters of the film is one of the best Cold War thrillers of the 1980s. Adapting Craig Thomasís 1977 novel quite closely, Eastwood does an excellent job at twisting the plot with a claustrophobic sense of mounting paranoia. He continually cuts back and forward between the progress across the country and the pursuing Soviets as they slowly piece together the various pieces of the puzzle in a way that keeps the suspense hanging on a knife-edge. It's probably a sense of paranoia about the implacable power of the KGB that existed far more as a myth in the eyes of conservative America and thriller writers than it ever did in actuality, but rarely has the obdurate implacability of the police state been evoked with such a sense of omniscient paranoia as it is here. Eastwood, photographer Bruce Surtees and the production design team do a superb job of recreating Moscow, with various locations in Vienna standing in for the real thing.

But it is really the last quarter, where the Firefox takes to the air and with a Russian pilot in pursuit in a second plane, where the film really finds its wings. The effects work here was supervised by John Dykstra. Dykstra shows what the dogfights that he also supervised for Star Wars would have been like with greater scientific accuracy. The races at Mach speed down canyons, across icepacks, twirling through clouds, across the ocean surface dragging half-mile funnels of snow and water, and the intensely suspenseful landing on the ice sheet at sea are something truly exhilarating. (If possible see the film on the wide cinema-screen as opposed to video where half the seat-edge effects are lost. Watching these scenes on the big-screen back in the filmís original cinematic release, the result was utterly exhilarating.) The matte black, sleek, gleaming shape of the Firefox looks stunning—the first view we get of it with its linear beak nose jutting out of its hangar is fabulous.

As actor Eastwood doesnít stray far from his usual stoic persona—in fact he seems more wooden than usual and quite simply out of his depth trying to portray a shell-shocked Vietnam Vet coping with post-traumatic stress. But there is excellent support from Freddie Jones as the prissy, velvet-voiced British intelligence specialist and Stefan Schnabel, who proves a considerable scene-stealer during the latter half in his scenes as the blustering First Secretary.

Eastwood, Clint
Jones, Freddie
Huffman, David
Clarke, Warren
Lacey, Ronald
Colley, Kenneth
LŲwitsch, Klaus
Schnabel, Stefan
Hill, Thomas

Emmanuel Lopez

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