In Memoriam 1942 – 2013 “Roger Ebert loved movies.”

RogerEbert.com

Thumb_2p0ieaxagvxbegbvoxstoqbekgl

The One I Love

Unabashedly entertaining at an efficient 91-minutes, "The One I Love" is an extremely confident first feature, with some really fun things to say about identity…

Thumb_2brnnc3ahirwbxxxti3l39fnz94

That Man from Rio

Jean-Paul Belmondo and Françoise Dorléac star in this sprightly adventure about a man trying to rescue his kidnapped fiancée.

Other Reviews
Review Archives
Thumb_xbepftvyieurxopaxyzgtgtkwgw

Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

Thumb_jrluxpegcv11ostmz1fqha1bkxq

Monsieur Hire

Patrice Leconte's "Monsieur Hire" is a tragedy about loneliness and erotomania, told about two solitary people who have nothing else in common. It involves a…

Other Reviews
Great Movie Archives
Other Articles
Channel Archives

Reviews

Flight Of The Intruder

  |  

"Flight of the Intruder" is a buddy movie about Navy pilots in the Vietnam War, circa 1972. It's a little darker than most buddy movies - the buddies keep having to be replaced when pilots are killed - and it has the germ of an idea to it. But it's a strangely disconnected movie that leads up to a point, makes it, and then drones on for another 45 minutes in increasingly witless cliches.

The early scenes are the best. We're onboard an aircraft carrier off Vietnam, with pilot Brad Johnson, who is frustrated because he's being asked to risk his life to hit meaningless targets in the jungle. Objectives of military importance seem to be off limits, and so the hurt is deep when his bombardier is killed by a lucky rifle shot during a tree-top mission.

He expresses his frustration to his commanding officer, played by Danny Glover, but Glover talks tough and won't listen to complaints. Then there's a brief break for R & R, during which the Barroom Brawl Rule is observed ("If the characters in a movie go into a rough-and-tumble saloon, a fight will eventually break out"), and then Johnson meets a young Navy widow (Rosanna Arquette) and spends a sweet interlude with her.

Meanwhile, back on the flight deck, hard-as-nails bombardier Willem Dafoe has turned up for his third tour of duty. Delivered to the carrier, he pauses for a second because he wants to smell the scent of a warship, and we're reminded that John Milius, who directed this movie, had a hand in the screenplay of "Apocalypse Now" with its immortal line "I love the smell of napalm in the morning." Dafoe says he's back for a third tour because he likes the work. Inevitably, he ends up as Johnson's new partner.

Johnson has an idea he can't let go. He wants to inflict some real damage on North Vietnam, in revenge for his dead buddy and "50,000 other Americans." Dafoe is game, and together the two plot an illegal and dangerous bombing run against "Sam City," the anti-aircraft installation in Hanoi. Their conversations about this run provide some of the movie's most interesting moments, and the aerial footage, while not "Top Gun" quality, is effective and exciting.

But then the movie loses its way. There's one scene in particular - a dressing-down that Johnson gets from Glover - that seems wrongly placed in the movie; it plays like an error in continuity. Then there are all the flip-flops the Glover character goes through. Is he really a mean SOB, or a good guy? Does he just talk tough, or does he mean it? Some scenes say one thing, some say another, while the movie develops an absurd and unbelievable ending and a final shot so cloying you want to shout rude suggestions at the screen. The ending, a condensed version of the movie "Bat 21," is itself implausible, but the human sacrifices and noble speeches that accompany it would have shamed John Wayne.

Something tells me there's a story behind the filming and editing of "Flight of the Intruder." Why is it smart at some times and dumb at others? Why are such large lapses of consistency allowed in the characters? Why are some scenes tough and others corny? Why does the editing seem so distracting at times? The movie feels like a project that was pulled one way during the filming, and another way during post-production. The result is some good stuff surrounded by a mess.

Popular Blog Posts

Different rules apply

White privilege, lived.

Ferguson, Missouri: Third World America vs. Atlas Shrugged

An FFC looks at the horrible situation in Ferguson, MO and what it says about where we are and where we're going.

Who do you read? Good Roger, or Bad Roger?

This message came to me from a reader named Peter Svensland. He and a fr...

Retrieving the Grail: Robin Williams and "The Fisher King"

An examination and appreciation of one of Robin Williams' greatest films, "The Fisher King."

Reveal Comments
comments powered by Disqus