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27
4.4 out of 5 stars
Flight Of The Intruder [DVD]
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
John Milius with an aircraft carrier to play with - he must have thought he'd died and gone to Valhalla, or at least until Flight of the Intruder got trapped in release date hell and proved his last theatrical release to date. Originally scheduled for Summer 1990, but put back to avoid a clash with Air America, its Autumn release was then postponed so that Paramount could use it as a standby for the cinemas that had booked Godfather III just in case Coppola didn't finish editing in time. He did. Then, to cap it all, three days after finally opening in the States in a re-edited version, the first Gulf War started, rendering it almost unpromotable because of his gung ho reputation.

Yet in actuality, hawkish sentiments confined to a great one-line riposte to Jane Fonda's Sixties politicking, Intruder continued the mellowing of Milius and is rather more aware than Top Gun of the moral implications and complications of its tale of Navy pilots during the Vietnam war. It's not without its problems: Willem Dafoe gives an uneasy performance and is prone to a VERY odd giggle even by his standards while Danny Glover doesn't actually appear to have anything to do until the last reel (Rosanna Arquette has even less reason to be there), with Basil Poledouris' score far from the standards of his previous collaborations with the director (the composer shared in the bad luck, dropping out of Dances With Wolves to score his friend's film, with disastrous consequences for his career at the time) - but it was none the less a qualified return to form for the director.

It also shows how his strengths and weaknesses had become reversed, his interest in quieter moments now taking precedence over the pyrotechnics and plotting. Extremely well filmed but with a go-nowhere narrative and the kind of curiously passionless action scenes that marred the thematically more interesting Farewell to the King, his heart just doesn't seem to be in them anymore. The finale, which owes more than a little to The Bridges at Toko-Ri, is distinctly underwhelming, and the aerial scenes are particularly disappointing, with the pivotal raid on 'Sam City' coming over more as a video game than cinema (ironically, the video game had better graphics despite coming out before the film). However, there are still a few stunning shots, including an amazing slow motion shot of rescue planes passing a downed jet, and Milius is fully at home with the Scope screen.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
I confess that I have a weakness for John Millius movies, as he made some very good ones - "Dillinger", "Conan the Barbarian", "Farewell to the King" - and some very special ones, like "Red Dawn" and precisely "The flight of Intruder". I also have a special sympathy for him, because he is a very persistant and courageous member of one of the least protected minorities in the world - an unrepentant right-wing film-maker in Hollywood! This is maybe the reason why I liked "The flight of the Intruder" a little bit more than it deserves - but ultimately I think that four stars are rather a fair rating. And here are the reasons why:

1. The story. This tale of a mini-rebellion amongst American pilots flying routinely dangerous and useless bombing missions over North Vietnam in 1972, during which they can not, for political reasons, attack any military relevant targets, is very appealing. From the beginning I rooted for both heroes - Jake "Cool Hand" Grafton and Virgil Cole - and I was really worried about what will become of them. Also, the great finale of the movie reminded me of one of my favourite war films, "The bridges at Toko Ri".

2. The cast. It is very impressive, even if Brad Johnson who plays the main character (Jake Grafton) is not a major star (and his character is not particularly flamboyant) - but Willem Dafoe (Virgil Cole) and especially Danny Glover (Squadron Commander Frank Camparelli) were given here an opportunity to display all their talent and they give an incredible show! Also, amongst the secondary roles, you will find a great number of actors who were promised to celebrity: Tom Sizemore ("Black Hawk Down"), Ving Rhames ("Pulp Fiction"), Dann Florek ("Law and Order SVU"), John Corbett ("Northern Exposure"), Fred Dalton Thompson ("Law and Order"), who was going three years later to become an US senator when still continuing his acting career, and finally David Schwimmer ("Friends", "Band of brothers"), in his very first role. Rosanna Arquette plays the only female character in this otherwise very masculine movie.

3. The planes and air fights. The movie sticks very carefully to the realities of the air-warfare over North Vietnam in 1972 and this is its great quality. Original Grumman A-6 "Intruder" bombers and Douglas A-1 "Skyraider" attack planes were used in this film together with a Vietnam war era HH-53 "Super Jolly Green Giant" huge helicopter. Anti-aircraft weapons (SAMs and guns) used by the North Vietnamese soldiers were also reconstructed with precision, although here one thing was changed, to make the movie more spectacular: the communist forces are seen using ZSU-23-4 "Shilka" self-propelled armored anti-aircraft vehicles, when in fact North Vietnamese forces started to use them only in 1975, during their last offensive against Saigon, when American soldiers were already long gone from Vietnam...

4. The general atmosphere of the movie - this is one of the few relatively recent war films which are completely devoided of political correctness and left-winged politics and this is a welcome change. The very masculine society living on an aircraft carrier in time of war in the 70s, toughened even more by the always present shadow of death, is portrayed with realism but also with a sympathy and an understanding and in the same time without any kind of drama - something that we do not see so much any more. And this is a precious thing.

All in all, although I believe this film could have been better, I am glad that I finally watched it and I will keep this DVD in my collection, next to "Bridges at Toko Ri" and "Hamburger Hill".
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on 20 December 2000
if you have read the book which is excellent by the way you will love this film it is like top gun (but keeps the romance to the minimum) but with a bomber instead of a fighter (for a change). The story is set in the vietnam war and is about the a pilot jake grafton whose bombardier is killed while on a routine bombing mission 'hitting a bunch of trees'he becomes jaded and starts to question why are they fighting a war that no one wants to win,so he and his new bombardier virgil cole who agrees with graftons thinking decide to do there own mission and hit a worthwhile target for a change this scene includes some very convincing visual effects that make you believe that you are flying with them and makes a change from the usual unconvincing war films effects and as much as possible uses real aircraft and not models on wire,the only small thing that lets the film down is after the opening scenes the story meanders along until cole turns up,but still is a good film and has some good scenes.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 21 November 2009
Ok, so this isn't Top Gun: There's no Tom Cruise, no greased hunks playing volleyball, no steamy love affair with an instructor. What there is, however, is a far more involving plot, a genuine historical background and enough jaw-dropping aerial shots to satisfy even the most picky of aircraft-enthusiasts. (And, as a bonus over Top Gun, the MiG featured in Flight of the Intruder really is a MiG)

This film's a cross between the classy high-octane life of Top Gun and the gritty anti-war message of Platoon (which also stars Willem Dafoe). You're really made to feel the thrill associated with flying, and the emotion attached to losing comrades in combat yet surviving.

Flight of the Intruder isn't Top Gun: I think it's better because of its depth. Well worth the price in my opinion.
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Just to clarify, as Amazon seem to mix 'n' match these days, this is a review of the Blu-Ray version, imported from the US.

The Blu-Ray transfer is reasonable and better than the DVD though as with many films of this age the quality varies from crystal sharp in some passages to grainy in the darker or indoor scenes. Sound is DTS HD Master, I suspect this has been remixed from the original Dolby Stereo but manages to avoid the disembodied effects this process sometimes results in. It's not the best sound mix out there but does what it says on the tin.

As regards the movie itself, well a timeless war classic really - hence my upgrade to the BD version. This is a down to earth war story and, as others have said, avoids the OTT excesses of Top Gun. The romantic interlude doesn't get in the way of the main plot and there's plenty of flying action and combat. The only thing I would suggest is try and get hold of a copy of the book as this fills in quite a bit of the back story which isn't really covered in the movie.

Overall very pleased and a four star experience.
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on 6 April 2014
Great film, I love this sort of movie an all star cast telling the story of the missions the Intruder pilots were sent on to drop bombs on the enemy but most were just groups of trees, the not very good intelligence reports and the increasing loss of pilots and navigators dying for nothing contributes to two of the staff on a night-time routing bombing only dropping the minimum number so as to keep the remaining ones to use in an unofficial mission of their own on the way home. They risk court martial if they carry this out and the action continues right up to the end and there is some great flying. Highly recommended.
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Seriously review readers, I did. It has been on my DVD shelf for so long, if it had not been dusted, it would be invisible by now. The DVD is a great one, the film that is. It is a little on the long side, but I think that is where it is best, as it allows you to become engrossed in one of the worst wars in history, or at least a little part of it. No, it is not real, come on. The effects are sometimes a little underdone, but not the climax of the film. Watch it if you like the era, the planes, the war film genre, it is well worth it.
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on 1 October 2009
Previously I had owned this title on VHS. Having recently watched "Top Gun", I decided to re-visit Intruder and purchased the DVD. The subject matter may not be to everyones liking and the storyline in places is a bit weak but the film does give the viewer a good insight into flying a combat mission.
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on 23 November 2013
a well written and directed war movie packed with action and strong performances from defoe and glover it is a good portrayal of the Vietnam conflict from a different angle that of the light bomber pilots and the problems with coming to terms with the loss of comrades
10/10
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on 7 February 2013
Probably the best Aviation film of the Viet Nam conflict, very little of the Gung-HO flag waving, just a story of aircrew trying to get the job done under US Government restrictions on targeting in Nam.
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