Directed by Clint Eastwood
Starring Clint Eastwood, Tommy Lee Jones, James Garner, Donald Sutherland, James Cromwell, William Devane, and some others.
Well, summer is drawing to a close, and there was still one last movie on my must-see list. I had been reading about Space Cowboys online for a while, back when it was going to star Harrison Ford. It always seemed like a good premise, and I thought it could be kinda cool. And, since it featured a bunch of marquee stars from my parents’ generation, I thought I would be a charitable son and take them to see it.
Way back in 1958, it was the U.S. Air Force that was making the leaps and bounds in space exploration. The pride was Team Daedelus, who were flying higher and faster than anyone else, and were being primed to be the first astronauts. But then, all good things come to an end. NASA was formed, and for the first astronaut, a chimp was chosen. This pissed off Team Daedelus to no end, and they quit the astronaut corp. Flash forward to the present day. The Russian satellite IKON, which was launched during the cold war, is in a falling orbit. The Russians are reluctant to let it go, and it is soon realized that IKON has the same guidance system as the old NASA space station, SkyLab. (How does an American guidance system end up on a Russian satellite at the hight of the cold war? Just one mystery to be solved.) After some research, it is learned that the guidance system was designed by Frank Corvin (Eastwood), the leader of Team Daedelus, and the last one still alive who knows how this guidance system works. Corvin agrees to help out NASA, but on one condition: Team Daedelus is sent into orbit to fix the satellite, and get the trip into space they were screwed out of 40 years ago. So, the team is re-united: navigator Tank (Garner), who is now a minister, engineer Jerry (Sutherland), who’s constantly horny, and pilot Hawk (Jones), who never really saw eye-to-eye with Corvin. Of course, as they go through their astronaut training, Hawk falls in love with a Sarah, one of the project managers. Can Team Daedelus overcome the machinations of a slimy flight director (Cromwell) and earn their trip into space? Can they solve they mystery of IKON and fix it in time?
This is a great summer film. It’s got action, it’s got comedy, it’s got great special effects. After Babe and Star Trek: First Contact, James Cromwell is becoming one of my favorite character actors, and here he does a great job as Bob, the slimy flight director who has had a few run-ins with Corvin in the past. Jones is quite the scene-stealer as Hawk, the renegade pilot. When we first meet him, and he takes this punk-ass teenager up in a biplane for a “scary ride,” it is just a hilarious scene. True, there are lots of jokes about old timers (one of the running gags is “Oh, he died last year”) but it is a lot of fun. Oh, and I have to agree with all the other critics, that final shot is pretty amazing. Kudos again to Industrial Light & Magic!