a critiQal film review Flight of the Intruder (1991)

  • DVD
  • Blu-Ray

Plot: U.S. Navy pilot Lt. Jake Grafton (Johnson) and his new bombardier, Lt. Cmdr. Virgil Cole (Dafoe), are two soldiers embedded in the Vietnam War growing frustrated by the military's constraints on their missions. Despite the best efforts of their commanding officer, Cmdr. Frank Camparelli (Glover), to re-engage them, this disillusioned pair decide to take the war effort into their own hands with an explosive battle plan that could well get them court-martialed.

455 words (Est. Reading Time 2m 16s)

Looking for another movie for this Saturday’s Retro Review, I went to NetFlix® to see what they had. Looking through the list of films I’d wanted to see, I ran across Flight of the Intruder. Up for a little plane flying action, I figured I’d give it a shot. Would this film be able to excite? Or was this just another forgettable Top Gun (1986) clone?

There’s quite a few recognizable names in the cast. Danny Glover (Lethal Weapon (1987)), as head honcho to the fighter squadron, does a decent job in his role, even if can’t quite sell it all the time. Then there’s Willem Dafoe, who seems half asleep until he gets to do a little homage to his role in . Tom Sizemore (Black Hawk Down (2002)) and Rosanna Arquette (Nowhere to Run (1993)) are decent enough as well. Ving Rhames (Mission: Impossible (1996)) also pops up, albeit way too briefly, and a ridiculously miscast David Schwimmer (“Friends” (TV)) also pokes his head in for a minute.

Despite all the star power, however, the lead of Flight of the Intruder goes to Brad Johnson, a nobody in comparison to all these big names. Unfortunately, he doesn’t quite match up, delivering a bit of a ho-hum, wooden performance in comparison to the work of the stars around him. The viewer never quite gets into his character, due to his cheesy acting, and keeps their distance from the film.

The action, on the other hand, is very good. Whether dogfighting in the sky, or trying to survive on the ground, the action will keep the viewer tuned in, despite the cheese factor of the lead performance. Sure, it’s not as intense as it could have been had the viewers cared more for the main character, but the sequences are still entertaining.

The biggest problem with Flight of the Intruder, then, is it’s actor choices. Rosanna Arquette is around basically just to prove a love interest angle to the story, and David Schwimmer never should have been in the film at all. Then, while the film wastes it’s star power on bit characters and sidekicks, it focuses on Brad Johnson, and that just makes things worse. His acting clearly isn’t in the same range as the notable names around him, and the film clearly suffers for it.

Sure, there are decent points to Flight of the Intruder. But, with a few different actor choices, the film could have really shined. As is, however, despite the star power that abounds, Flight of the Intruder is only okay, and viewers will not be able to differentiate it from the slew of other fighter pilot films out there.

Heck, we should have just stuck with re-watching a better film like Top Gun (1986) again ourselves.

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