tn_firefoxFIREFOX – not the cinematic adaptation of the popular web browser, but the spy thriller – was the Clint Eastwood movie I chose to watch on Veteran’s Day. It’s not a war movie, but Clint’s character is a Vietnam vet who suffers from PTSD and has flashbacks during stressful moments. This wasn’t really the best choice of an Eastwood movie to watch, it turns out. Unfortunately it’s a pretty dull one.

Nice opening, though. The ol’ Re-recruiting of the Reclusive Badass number. Clint (with a beard and looking alot like Wolverine of the X-Men pictures) lives out in the middle of nowhere. He’s out jogging and sees a military helicopter, runs to his gun in a panic, ’cause of the ‘Nam thing. He was a great pilot and also grew up speaking Russian, so he’s uniquely qualified for an intelligence mission to sneak into Moscow and steal the world’s most advanced jet, one with a special helmet that allows the pilot to control it with thoughts. So he has to remember to think in Russian.

mp_firefoxAlot of the movie is sneaking around in different disguises, using different identities, meeting with other assets, trying to stay cool under questioning. Cloak and dagger type shit. It gets exciting a few times, like when he beats a KGB agent to death in a bathroom, or when he sets off a firebomb as a distraction. But there are alot of stretches of the movie where it feels like not much happens. Like most Eastwood movies it’s pretty long, at 136 minutes, but this one feels like it doesn’t really need to be that long.

Of course it’s all leading up to Clint stealing that jet, so the climax is a state-of-the-art-for-1982 special effects sequence of the fictional jet flying around real fast. STAR WARS dude John Dykstra oversaw the effects which involved taking lots of real flight footage, speeding it up and superimposing a model jet onto it. This is the same year as RETURN OF THE JEDI and the scenes I guess are kind of similar to what they did with the speedy bikes in that picture but not set long ago or far away.

Even in the worst Eastwood movies he’s still gonna be enjoyable to watch as he grimaces at authority and occasionally makes a smart ass remark or something. And it’s kind of interesting to see him playing a supposedly old pilot yanked out of retirement so many years before doing it again in the way more enjoyable SPACE COWBOYS.

There’s a nice moment when he’s undercover and has to scuffle with a soldier, and he has a chance to kill the guy but stops himself and says “Ehhh… you didn’t do anything.” I don’t think the irony was intentional, but it makes an interesting counterpoint to the jet sequence later when he seems to be pretty indiscriminate about blowing up every plane or helicopter that comes near him. It sort of shows the difference between fighting somebody face to face or fighting through machinery.

My favorite thing in the movie though is a little detail that he never finds out about – that one of his main qualifications was that he was a similar size to the Russian who flew the Firefox. In other words, they chose him because they thought he would fit into the suit.

The DVD of FIREFOX has a surprisingly good extra on it. Under the inconspicuous title “Clint Eastwood: Director” is a 30 minute vintage documentary made for British TV. Clint talks about FIREFOX and his approach to directing. In the style of the time they have him re-enact arriving at work for the day, so he drives up to his reserved parking space and struts into his office.

At the end he and “friend Sondra Locke” go to Washington DC for the FIREFOX premiere, done as a fundraiser for a military charity. He poses for photos with Reagan administration officials Edwin Meese and Caspar Weinberger. Meese is probly a big DIRTY HARRY fan, as he was known for opposing the idea of Miranda rights. Both were involved in the Iran/Contra scandal, especially Secretary of Defense Weinberger, who was indicted on two counts of perjury and one count of obstruction of justice (but it doesn’t count ’cause he was later pardoned by George H.W. Bush).

But I don’t really see anything uncomfortably right wing in FIREFOX. Obviously it’s a Cold War movie, and the Russian villains are cartoonish, but there’s not any of that preachy anti-communist stuff in there. They just have some bad KGB people and some nice Russians who want to get rid of them. And a jet.

At the time FIREFOX might’ve seemed a little better than it does now that it’s so dated, but then again it happened to come out in June of maybe the greatest movie summer of all time. It was competing for screens with CONAN THE BARBARIAN, ROAD WARRIOR, STAR TREK II, POLTERGEIST and E.T. And then after its release came BLADE RUNNER and THE THING. Shit, I don’t even have to bring up ROCKY III, or lower profile outlawvern.com favorites like VISITING HOURS, FRIDAY THE 13TH 3D, THE BEASTMASTER or CLASS OF 1984 to show that it doesn’t only pale in comparison to Clint’s other movies, but to the non-Clint movies that were coming out around the same time.

In Clint Eastwood: Director the interviewer asks Clint about why he had risked making a comedy movie with a chimp sidekick (not this one – a different, better movie) and he talks about the importance of trying the things that appeal to him even if people tell him it’s a bad move, and if he didn’t do that he’d still be in Italy filming westerns every year. He says of his fans, “They expect maybe a certain kinda action, a certain kinda entertainment, and hopefully they get it. If they’re disappointed then we’ll give it to ’em next time.”

Next time, in this case, was HONKYTONK MAN.

(to be continued)


This entry was posted on Friday, November 18th, 2011 at 1:59 am and is filed under Action, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

34 Responses to “Firefox”

  1. sorry Vern, Return of The Jedi was 83, not 82

    just thought I’d be the nerd to point that out

  2. As an European I see a lot of politically uncomfortable stuff in Firefox. But it’s mostly laughable things like the fact that every single jew in The Soviet Union seems to be a CIA operative and that KGB obviously shops in the same store as Gestapo. Nothing really upsetting. And nothing that Top Secret! didn’t take the piss out of the year after. The only thing that bugs just a little bit is that Clint himself doesn’t seem to understand that his character is the bad guy in this movie, and that that the good guys are the KGB and the Soviet pilots.

  3. This one is high up in my “Looked at the box a lot of times in the video store, but always decide not to rent” rankings (“looks boring” subcategory).

    I’ve tried and tried, but it always stays in the shop. See also: “Ghost in the Machine” (1993).

  4. When I saw this as a kid I remember wondering why pretty much every much character in it was played by an English actor. i guess they were going for “distinguished” but it just ended up looking cheap.

    The plane still looks cool, though.

  5. DocZ – Ghost in the Machine is shit, you didn’t miss much

  6. Rudolf Klein-Rogge

    November 18th, 2011 at 8:12 am

    Easily one of the lesser Eastwoods, but not without a certain charm. I remember particularly enjoying scenes with Eastwood disguised with a fake mustache. This will probably make a good – if overlong and occasionally very dull – double bill with EIGER SANCTION. It’s another spy thriller starring Clint, this one involving mountain climbing and an albino. As with FIREFOX, it’s not all that, but it’s still Clint…

  7. So the web browser name is supposed to suggest that it is so intuitive that it reads the user’s thoughts?

    I guess “Firefox” is the coolest name for such a thing. Better than “Scanners 1.0” or “Jedi Mind Trick” or “Vulcan MindMeld.”

  8. I think popular German actor Klaus Löwitsch is in this. That’s all I know about this movie..

  9. As far as browsers named after Clint Eastwood movies, however, I would much rather be visiting this sight on Pinkcadillac or Twomules4sistasarah.

  10. I hadn’t thought about Eastwood movies usually being long. I watched JOE KIDD a few weeks ago, and realize now that I enjoyed it more because it clocked in at about 90 minutes. Clint has his run in with the blonde, the bad guys, and drives a train through a building and we’re all set.

  11. “It gets exciting a few times, like when he beats a KGB agent to death in a bathroom…”
    Does he wash his hands afterwards?

  12. No. Some day, though. I might have to get into movies just to achieve the dream of the post-bathroom fight hand washing scene.

  13. The trailers for this made it look much better than it was. The bathroom brawl though was the definite precursor to the much better one in True Lies. And Arnie didn’t wash his hands either, despite taking a piss, the dirty bugger.

  14. Also – I’ve had your site blocked in multiple countries due to being called Fuck You Jack.

    In the UK, I had to go to a Vodafone office and show them my ID to prove I was old enough for them to remove their censoring.


  15. I always get this one mixed up with that other 80’s aerial figher joint with Nic Cage and Tommy Lee Jones joint that’s also called “Fire[something]”. Come to think of it; looking back the air force must have had record recruiting numbers back in those days considering how many “dudes that fight evil in the skies for their country” movies there were back then.

  16. No connection to the Angelina Jolie movie, FOXFIRE?

  17. This Clint joint makes me of course think first of Uma Thurman’s failed tv pilot, FOX FORCE 5.

  18. The author of the book Firefox, Craig Thomas, wrote three more stories about Mitchell Grant and his fight against the Soviets; Firefox Down, Winter Hawk and A Different War. I guess we’re lucky that Eastwood didn’t make a franchise out of this.

  19. I’d always heard FIREFOX was a bad Clint Eastwood movie, that it was really boring. But I’d read the plot description. He’s stealing a plane that he can control with his mind! How could that possibly suck? I put it off for a while but when that 35-year Clint set came out I finally watched it.

    Yeah, it really is boring as fuck.

  20. wabalicious monkeynuts

    November 19th, 2011 at 5:10 am

    Rudolf, spot on with your comment about this and The Eiger Sanction, i absolutely love Clint, but these films are boring shite. I have them both as part of a huge 3 box Clint Eastwood dvd set that i got, but they’re both still in the plastic wrappers, and will remain that way forever.

  21. True, Firefox is quite boring, but The Eiger Sanction’s actually cool if you watch it as a James Bond parody. The accent Clint uses when he disguises himself as messenger is priceless, and George Kennedy classics such as “Lady, you really need to get laid” (I know, it’s not up there with “Go fuck a duck”, but…) makes it a fun watch on a Friday night. I watch The Eiger Sanction more often than Honkytonk Man, The Beguiled and Play Misty for Me, to put it like that.

  22. Stu – isnt Foxfire one of the movies with Jolie’s Juicy Jubblies back when she was still hot?

  23. I’m generally a lurker here, but I think you should definitely get into movies Vern! That idea for Seagal involving killer bees (“The beekeeper”? Or was it “Bees on a plane”?) was genius.

  24. I gotta say, I fucking love Pink Cadillac. I think its a severely underrated Clint movie. One of my all time “its one cable and its about 20 minutes in, I start watching and end up watching the entire thing to the end including the credits” movies. And I’ve always really liked Bernadette Peters too. When Clint does his hick impersonation in the pool hall, i crack up every time.

  25. Hey Vern, hate to tell you, but WITNESS beat you to the post fight hand washing scene by a couple decades. It’s right after Danny Glover slits the undercover cop’s throat and the little Amish boy watches the whole thing. It even has the following great exchange:

    Corrupt cop #1: “Shit, let’s get out of here—what the hell are you doing?”
    Danny Glover: “Washing my hands man.”
    Corrupt Cop#1: “What?”
    Danny Glover: “Washing my hands.”

    It’s a great scene, because Glover’s just so calm while his compatriot is freaking out. However, I still think you should get into movies, because I have faith you can top this scene, and many others.

  26. I dunno, I might look this one up, if only because I had the exact opposite reaction to “Where Eagles Dare” as everyone else did. (Although it probably didn’t help that I’d read the book beforehand.) One of those annoying movies where they try to create a twist ending by revealing that a character is unexpectedly evil, yet we’ve seen so little of that character beforehand that it all just falls flat. (See also: “Kiss the girls”.) I thought that apart from the one famous classic scene in the middle of it, it was mind-numbingly boring.

    Anyway, maybe I’ll get the opposite reaction to this one as well, and find it more interesting than other people did.

  27. Eiger Sanction is pretty good. I may have to put Pink Cadillac in my holiday rotation. Never saw Honkytonk Man either.

  28. I don’t think FIREFOX is boring, but I do think it suffers unlike many of Eastwood’s previous pictures because of a problem nobody has mentioned yet: Lack of Humor. Think about it. Hell THE GAUNTLET isn’t a superstar either in the Eastwood canon, but it’s a solid escapist effort because of the reliable Eastwood formula: economic narrative with action and humor, just enough plot without it overburdening the movie (a problem way too many contemporary movies seem to have.)

    And yeah, FIREFOX is too long.

    pegsman – I think SANCTION is forgettable, but I do dig the mountain climbing aspect and Clint doing his own stunts.

    But THE BEGUILED? Genuine little gem, maybe the only instance to my knowledge where Eastwood played a villain (or something close to one) and even Don Siegel said it was his favorite of his. I’ve never understood why it never escaped obscurity, not even in the Internet/DVD age.

    ThomasCrown442 – Didn’t care for PINK CADILLAC, but I do get why people might like it. Felt like a rare example where Eastwood’s above-mentioned formula didn’t work like it usually did. I do remember the Siskel/Ebert review where they bitched about the skinhead villains using ethnic slurs as cheap value…true, but that’s why they’re usually cheap villains in modern movies.

    Plus PSYCH several episodes back referenced it. Awesome.

  29. RRA; there’s nothing wrong with The Beguiled, or any of Clint’s movies for that matter. But there are those you watch maybe once a year, and then there are those you can pop in the dvd player and enjoy at least once a week without getting tired of them. I have watched the Dirty Harry movies, all his westerns, Thunderbolt and Lightfoot, Kelly’s Heroes, The Eiger Sanction, Where Eagles Dare, The Gauntlet, The Rookie, In the Line of Fire, hell, even Clyde 1 and 2 on a regular basis ever since I got my own video player in the early 80’s, but I’ve seen The Brigdes of Madison County only twice in 15 years. It doesn’t mean it’s a bad movie, but like Breezy, The Beguiled, Play Misty for Me and almost everything he’s made after Unforgiven, it’s in a different league. Shit, in Bridges he’s chopping carrots, for petes sake!

  30. PINK CADILLAC just ends sort of out of nowhere with no real resolution though doesn’t it? It is perfectly watchable (though hardly exceptional) lazy Sunday fare on the whole as far as I recall though.

  31. Now that I think about it, Pink Cadillac does just kind of end without anything being wrapped up. Its like they shot it back to back, Matrix sequel style, with part 2 but forgot to film the second part. I just realized that Jim Carrey is in both Pink Cadillac and the Dead Pool. Is there a weird Clint/Carrey connection that i don’t know about?

  32. For some reason, I thought the plane didn’t really read his thoughts, he just had to talk to it (in Russian), which basically inspired the voice-operated plane in GI Joe that understood Celtic.

    And Broddie – the movie you speak of is Firebirds, which is kinda terrible but is notable for 1) the “I am the greatest!” scene which is probably my first exposure to Nicolas Cage’s mega-acting 2) a PG-13 sex scene that you could wack it to (hey i was a kid and my options were limited) and 3) an early prototype of “sassy authority figure” Tommy Lee Jones. Oh, and I like that when the villain’s plane gets shot, the bullets went through the cockpit and there were PG13 blood and guts flying everywhere.

  33. Yes! Finally someone else is talking about this! I was the only one I ever knew to mention it. Kind of like how all my friends said I was crazy when I described Lancelot Link:Secret Chimp Agent (or whatever it was called), saying it never existed until I found it online. But anyway. Yea. The special effects were FUCKING AMAZING… to a 8 year old at the time. I played that video game a lot too. It was during the surge of laserdisc-powered videogames, like Dragon’s Lair and Space Ace. (Now THOSE i’d like to see as movies!) It was good stuff. Then videogames kind of shied away from using live-action footage as the graphics got better and they were able to render such things realtime. But I kind of miss that approach.

  34. “Firefox” is another elementary-school movie for me: either we saw it in class or I saw it at a friend’s birthday party. It made a huge impression on me at the time. The cloak-and-dagger part is fun and the scenes with the planes flying looked extremely cool at the time. It was a cool-looking plane too. They don’t design things that look that cool any more.

    The fact that Mitchell Gant’s cover identity was a drug dealer blew my mind as a child—that the Russians knew he was a drug dealer, but that didn’t mean he was going to be arrested the minute he crossed the border, was so counterintuitive to a young me. This movie was also my introduction to the concept of veterans with PTSD, so there was another mind-broadening experience. And my parents watched a lot of “Yes, Minister” so it was neat to see a bearded Nigel Hawthorne as one of the Russian scientists.

    The moment I found it on VHS at a thrift store in the mid-2000s I snapped it up. When my room-mates and I went to watch it, it probably didn’t hold up to my childhood impressions of it. For one thing, I’ve gradually lost my ability to enjoy action and special effects for their own sake, so the flying scenes that were so awesome at the time probably felt like padding when I re-watched it as an adult. Also the ending is sort of flat. He remembers to think in Russian, fires his rear missiles, shoots down the other pilot, and flies off into the sunset. The first time you see it as a child, you’re just relieved that he’s going to be OK. But re-watching it as an adult, you expect there to be more. You want to see him landing the Firefox and handing it over to a grateful military, and getting to go back home so he can finally relax and feel safe. It doesn’t have to be exactly that, but something, at least. Some pay-off to all the tension we just went through.

    It probably is more boring than my nostalgia wants it to be, but I’ll allow it.

    Agree that “Ghost in the Machine” is not a good movie.

    It bothers me too when people don’t wash their hands after using the bathroom in movies. And when they walk into a room and don’t close the door behind them. That’s bad enough when it’s just some sitcom, but when it’s an action or suspense movie, it could be dangerous.

    I think there is a Jim Carrey/Clint Eastwood connection and that is that Carrey has always had a great Eastwood impression, where Carrey makes himself look exactly like Eastwood just by using his facial muscles. You’re laughing at how uncanny the resemblance is before he’s even said the catchphrase. Maybe Eastwood saw him do it at a tribute dinner or something and was amused and said “Note to self: hire this guy.”

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