If you don’t know Clint, don’t start here.
FIREFOX is a dark horse in the Clint canon. It’s him all right, pulling all the Clint faces, slamming the same Clint right hooks – but the movie just lacks grip. Start with the seminal Clint (Leone’s DOLLAR trilogy), the early period Clint (HIGH PLAINS DRIFTER), mid-period Clint (EVERY WHICH WAY movies), or even the late-period Clint (birthed from UNFORGIVEN onwards) – just gallop away from this dark horse.
Okay, with that glowing recommendation, I guess you can go now. If you’re still here… Clint Eastwood is Mitchell Gant, a Viet Nam vet, cajoled back into unwilling service to infiltrate Russia and steal a prototype Russian fighter plane that works on neural commands (mind-control) – the Firefox.
The movie’s opening scene is its best: the bearded, rugged Clint, jogging along crisp mountain roads, suddenly accosted by a military chopper and trying to outrun it (it’s a Clint movie – what can I say?); we see Gant from the chopper’s point of view, obscured by trees as he sprints, looking like he could take down a grizzly bear with that chest of his, taut white t-shirt, muscled biceps pumping, sweat, male essence…. ooh…
After that, the cliches come thick and fast and hairy, as Gant experiences the obligatory Viet Nam flashbacks and the obligatory army psychologist telling him he won’t experience debilitating flashbacks if he goes on this forced mission, and him going on the mission and experiencing debilitating flashbacks.
Gant infiltrates Russian customs through the use of Clark Kent glasses and a nifty Broadway mustache, then he beats up some guys in a toilet, runs around a lot in the dark and eventually steals the plane. While a Russian pursues him in another Firefox, Gant must “think in Russian” to make the plane’s gadgets work and saves the day through dodgy special effects.
Directed by Eastwood (from a probably exciting book by Craig Thomas), FIREFOX is one of those movies where you can safely say, “Starring Clint Eastwood and a cast of unknowns.” This was back in 1982 – and in 2009 these people are STILL unknown! (Excepting the great Nigel Hawthorne R.I.P. 2001.) One can imagine many of them believing they were bound for international fame being in a Clint movie… uh, just not in THIS one.