Flight of the Intruder [1991]

Time has been kind to Flight of the Intruder, a rousing aviation-action adventure that looks better now than it did to critics who panned it in 1991. Perhaps they were expecting a Tom Clancy-ish blockbuster (producer Mace Neufeld oversaw the Jack Ryan franchise), but director John (Conan the Barbarian) Milius had something potentially more substantial in mind. The first 75 minutes are pure Milius: Macho bluster, male bonding among ill-fated pilots and Naval bombardiers, and a Big Wednesday-like passion for dangerous fun. But Milius's favorite topics have sharper teeth here: He's made a scathing anti-Vietnam film that still honors the bravery of soldiers who do their job even when the job itself seems pointless. That's why ace Brad Johnson (why didn't he become a huge star?) and maverick bombardier Willem Dafoe plot a renegade mission, bombing a Hanoi arms depot with their low-altitude A-6 Intruder in the movie's pyrotechnical climax. Fringe benefits abound, including early roles for Tom Sizemore, Ving Rhames, and David Schwimmer in his big-screen debut, three years before Friends and looking like the dweeby grandchild of his Band of Brothers martinet. --Jeff Shannon

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