From the get-go let me state that I was a huge fan of the novel that this film was based on, and was very stunned that the translation of that book into celluloid was equally as good. A freakish accomplishment given the notorious track record of such translations.
Also, let me preface that I'm a huge fan of Clint Eastwood. Long before he became the elder statesman of the film industry and winning several Academy Awards, these early directorial efforts proved that he was always much more than a rugged action star. In fact, I willingly suffered through films that I suspected I would dislike, simply to enjoy his performances.
Indications of his future brilliance were all on display in this 80's action/thriller.
Tells the story of Mitchell Gant, retired officer of the US Air Force. Having left the service due to what was then called Delayed Stress Syndrome, what we now call PTSD, Gant suffers intermittent and debilitating flashbacks when confronted with intense emotional situations; the illness grounding him into an early retirement. But a seminal breakthrough across the planet requires his very specific set of skills be employed once more.
Despite having access to thousands of current and former military pilots from across the free world, Gant is the lone aviator who fits a very specific profile needed for an emergency mission. In addition to being fluent in Russian and a former member of the Constant Peg Aggressor Squadron - US pilots trained in obtained Soviet aircraft and their combat styles - he's also a dead-ringer for a known heroine dealer.
As Gant is "volunteered" for the mission, it becomes clear that almost every intelligence and military officer involved in the secret project does not believe he'll succeed. With so many disparate parts and parties that have to synch perfectly, it's an unspoken but foregone conclusion that the effort is doomed. And any failure along the mission path equals tortuous death at the hands of the KGB -or- a lonely frozen death by drowning in the Arctic Sea.
For all intents, he knows this is a one-way suicide mission.
A very entertaining action/thriller with Eastwood guiding what could have easily wrecked with over-dramatization and collapsing into cold war hyperbole. His deft handing of the script emphasizing the thievery and thief - and less the geopolitical ramifications of a revolutionary combat airframe that threatens world peace.
- Firefox's author, Craig Thomas, wrote the novel based on his own air combat experience and strange rumors he had heard through the professional grapevine about a theoretical aircraft design that was said to be "invisible" to radar.
Though vehemently denied for a quarter of a century, in 1988, and nearly 12 years after Thomas' book was published in 1977, the United States announced that it had produced so-called stealth aircraft that were undetectable to radar detection systems of that period.
- The name Firefox is not the name associated with or given by the Soviet air force to their planes. Just as today with Russian aircraft, in the west we assign nicknames beginning with certain letters to help our forces quickly and easily identify opposition hardware. For example, the letters 'B' for bombers or 'C' for commercial. In the novel, an imagined MiG-31 advanced combat aircraft is given the NATO nickname of Firefox - 'F' for fighter.
- I'm a fan of character actor Freddie Jones, and absolutely love his typical presentation of character: The professional who speaks with emphatic pronunciation overlaid with a personality of smooth knowing guile. Thought his performance was superlative as the MI6 officer who authors the fantastical plan to steal Russia's most advanced aircraft.