Fire Birds

If TOP GUN is a war movie for the MTV generation, then FIRE BIRDS is TOP GUN for the FULL METAL JACKET generation. Generally, when foreign directors take on an American subject, they either get it completely wrong (Norman Jewison's IN COUNTRY) or they tell us more about ourselves than we care to know (virtually all of Alfred Hitchcock's American films)....read more

Rating:

If TOP GUN is a war movie for the MTV generation, then FIRE BIRDS is TOP GUN for the FULL METAL JACKET generation. Generally, when foreign directors take on an American subject, they either get it completely wrong (Norman Jewison's IN COUNTRY) or they tell us more about ourselves than we

care to know (virtually all of Alfred Hitchcock's American films). Directed by Britain's David Green, FIRE BIRDS falls solidly into the latter category. It's not so much a war film as a film at war with itself.

Nicolas Cage and Tommy Lee Jones, as hot-shot pilots of massively destructive Apache attack helicopters, take on the usual suspects; i.e, a Latin American drug cartel. Routine military melodrama leads to a satisfactorily explosive climax. But what makes BIRDS truly riveting entertainment is not

the conflict between good and bad guys, but the clash between the film's apparent intent and the loony subversiveness of its performances. Hardly routine actors, Cage, Jones, and Sean Young are cast in what amounts to a routine B programmer (albeit on an A budget) seemingly intended to serve as

Disney's shameless public service contribution to the war on drugs. And this cast gives anything but routine performances. Cage, for instance, brings an almost frightening ferocity to his character's cockiness, giving even the most ordinary scenes--especially a training session in a computerized

flight simulator--a deeply disturbing edge. As Cage's performance makes clear, this pilot's idea of walking tall and going for the gusto teeters on the edge of psychosis.

{