Techno-Thrillers are the hot thing these days, thanks to Tom Clancy. The film of Clancy’s Hunt for Red October couldn’t touch the book for the kind of military details that make armchair Pattons orgasmic, but it was huckstered into a hit anyway. Hunt producer Mace Neufeld is hoping lightning will strike again with Flight, based on a Clancy-like 1986 bestseller by Stephen Coonts about navy pilots in North Vietnam, circa 1972. The techno part involves the A-6 Intruder, a low-altitude bomber designed to destroy targets in the dark. It’s dandy at the job, depending on the coordination of pilot and bombardier. And there’s another catch: The Intruder carries no defensive weapons.
Twitchy Willem Dafoe is on hand as the bombardier, square-jawed Brad Johnson is the pilot, and blustery Danny Glover is the squadron leader who keeps yelling at his charges from an aircraft carrier. The flyboys are tired of practicing; they want to get behind enemy lines and blow away something real. Showing how the Intruder works might have been engrossing (Coonts was a navy pilot) but not to director John Milius. When he’s not laying on an irrelevant romance between the pilot and a navy widow (a wasted Rosanna Arquette), Milius is dishing out the same tired, right-wing, macho bullshit that made his Red Dawn, Big Wednesday and Farewell to the King such audience endurance tests. In the air, Flight offers a few jolts; on the ground, it’s merely airheaded.