Flight of the Intruder | Chicago Reader

Flight of the Intruder

It seems pretty clear by now that John Milius has virtually only one interest as a director—filming wide-eyed boys' adventure stories that concentrate on male camaraderie. It's the theme that serves him both well (The Wind and the Lion) and ill (Red Dawn, Farewell to the King). This wartime action film, based on Stephen Coonts's best-selling novel, which was adapted by Robert Dillon and David Shaber, qualifies as one of his second bests. The “Intruder” of the title is a low-altitude navy bomber manned by a pilot and a bombardier/navigator and operating off the coast of North Vietnam in 1972. After a member of one such team is killed on a pointless mission, his partner and best friend (Brad Johnson) convinces the replacement (Willem Dafoe) to join him on an unauthorized mission to bomb a Hanoi military installation. Danny Glover plays their gruff, disapproving commander, and Rosanna Arquette figures briefly as a war widow who becomes a one-night stand for the hero. Needless to say, keeping the North Vietnamese faceless is an essential part of the enterprise, and Milius's implicit support of renegade bombers raises plenty of separate issues that the film isn't too concerned about addressing. But after many years in the doldrums, he shows enough sincerity and energy here to keep things watchable at a limited, dubious level, with good performances and nice pacing. Tom Sizemore costars.

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