John Milius has had a wild career. Mainly a writer, he’s been the creative force behind some of the most iconic films of the past 30 years including Apocalypse Now, Conan the Barbarian and Red Dawn (the latter two of which he directed). Throw in helping to create the TV series Rome, alongside helping to bring the niche sport of Mixed Martial Arts to the masses with the Ultimate Fighting Championships in its early days, and Milius has certainly had a diverse career in and out of Hollywood. And with the advent of the Blu-Ray, his small but influential catalog is being re-released since some of it has been discontinued. Amongst them: Flight of the Intruder.
In that gray zone of action films still trying to cling on to the ‘80s sensibilities in the post Die Hard era, Flight of the Intruder tried to mesh the disillusionment inherent with Vietnam War films with an action film whose days had since passed with amusing results.
Jake Grafton (Brad Johnson) is a fighter pilot who just lost his bombardier in combat over Vietnam on a mission that was successful in name only. With a new co-pilot, Box (Tom Sizemore) causing friction due to feelings of regret over the death of his old co-pilot, his unit is about to experience some change. Commanded by Commander Camparelli (Danny Glover), and joined by Cole (Willem Dafoe), Grafton is jaded at the war. SAM missiles are heavy in an area that U.S forces can’t fight over. Grafton decides to take matters into his own hands and go after the sites directly. Recruiting Cole into his one man war against a missile depot in Hanoi, he steals an A-6 Intruder (a bomber with no defensive weapons), he faces court martial if successful and the grave if he isn’t.
It’s certainly an interesting film, to say the least, as it combines the sort of ‘80s “Guy going against orders to do the right thing” and the Vietnam War to try and create a rare genre feat: the action film based in a war. It’s an homage to films like Von Ryan’s Express and The Great Escape, which used World War II for the same purpose. It’s an interesting throwback to that era of two decades before, except with a decidedly higher body count and volume of explosions. It’s a generic action film with a decidedly interesting setting.
The more amusing part is the sheer volume of actors in smaller roles in this film. Former Presidential candidate, and star of Law & Order, Fred Thompson, Friends star and burgeoning director David Schwimmer and a slimmed down Ving Rhames (with hair) make notable appearances throughout the film. While it may be a relic of its era, it’s certainly still worth a rental for action fans.
The test of any transfer is how good it looks during a big battle sequence. With guns blaring, explosions everywhere and big visuals behind it all, Flight of the Intruder has an awe-inspiring final battle sequence that lends itself to the Blu-Ray format. The transfer is brilliant in and of itself, cleaned up from its initial release on DVD significantly.
There’s a quick, generic advertisement for Blu-Ray and that’s it.
Flight of the Intruder is a relic of its era but is still worth the watch for action aficionados and those interested to see how good a Blu-Ray player can look.
Lionsgate presents Flight of the Intruder. Directed by John Milius. Starring Danny Glover, Tom Sizemore, Brad Johnson, Ving Rhames, Tom Sizemore, Willem Dafoe, John Corbett. Written by Robert Dillon and David Shaber based off the novel “Flight of the Intruder” by Stephen Coonts Running time: 115 minutes. Rating: PG-13. Released on DVD April 6, 2010 . Available at Amazon.com.
Scott Sawitz is an Inside Pulse original. He's also been featured on The Ultimate Fighter.com, Fox Sports.com, Nerdcore Movement.com, CagePotato.com, Inside Fights.com and Film Arcade.net (among others). When Scott isn't writing about film he's making his own. Check out Drunk Justice Productions right here.