I remember watching Firefox back when it first came out, and loving it. It had been several years since I last watched this film. Like with many other remembered films from that era, the memories are better than the actuality.
Mitchell Gant (played by Clint Eastwood) is a former Vietnam War pilot who often has flashbacks to his time as a POW in Vietnam. The U.S. military is working with counterparts from the United Kingdom on a plan to steal the MiG-31, a highly advanced fighter with thought-controlled missiles and weapons. They want Gant to sneak into Russia and steal it from the Soviet military.
The plot is pretty straight forward, and doesn’t really have any twists or surprises. Eastwood, who also directed Firefox, does a decent job playing Gant, though Gant comes off feeling like many other characters Eastwood has portrayed. He is gritty and does what it takes to make it through, even if he doesn’t like or enjoy the process.
The music in the film, by Maurice Jarre, is almost forgettable. It is stereotypically standard for military action films, and none of it stands out. The best thing about it is that it didn’t feel out of place, and only rarely was noticeable.
John Dykstra, who supervised the special effects in Star Wars, did an excellent job with the special effects during the flying sequences in Firefox. Even though they are primitive compared to current standards over thirty years later, they were truly amazing at the time. That he was able to do them so well is a testament to his creativity and ingenuity.
One of my biggest complaints is how it ended. While the final aerial dogfight was exciting, it wasn’t very climactic and felt like it was the middle of the film. This brings up another issue: the pacing was really off throughout most of the film. The beginning scenes felt cobbled together in a clunky way, and the good parts of the film were interspersed with exciting sequences that had no build-up. The film really lacked tension. I never felt the hero would lose.
In the end, the film was a bit above average but didn’t live up to the novel (or the sequel). I will likely watch it again in a few years, but Firefox will never be a favorite (despite my fond memories). It is what I expected from a Clint Eastwood film, but nothing more or less than that. If you want a mindless sort-of spy thriller to fill some time, this is a good candidate. Just don’t expect The Bourne Identity.
Release Date: June 18, 1982 (USA)
MPAA Rating: PG
Alcohol/Drugs: 1 (some smoking, some drinking)
Language: 1 (brief, minor, deity)
Violence: 2 (beating, murder, aerial dogfights, death)