Yesterday inspired a lot of things, like more specialty rice burgers. But it also inspired me to watch my 52nd Nicolas Cage movie that I had been sitting on for over six months.
You know, you just know a movie is going to be quality when it starts off with a quote from George H.W. Bush. To describe "Fire Birds" accurately, I would say that it is like "Top Gun," but instead of F-14 Tomcat fighter jets, you have AH-64 Apache helicopters, and instead of fighting the Soviets, the U.S. is fighting drug cartels, and instead of the U.S. Navy, it's D.E.A., and instead of several MiGs, it's one chopper (and a couple of crappy Saab 35 Draakens), and instead of being good, it's kind of not. Only kind of because, well, it's a Nic Cage movie. And a Tommy Lee Jones movie. And a Sean Penn movie. That, in a nutshell, is the essence of "Fire Birds" Plus there are a lot more flight simulators. And there's a scene where Nicolas Cage drives around in a jeep with panties over his eyes.
In order to top the drama of "Top Gun," Director David Green got his actors to emote by having them open there eyes wide, right before they get hit by a missile. Prior to that the actors acted as though they were told to imagine themselves as the other other right fielder in a little league game where none of the kids can hit beyond second base. I'm pretty sure the direction was something like, "Be bored, be bored, be bored ... Now missile's about to hit, open those eyes wide! WIDE!!!" Even Nicolas Cage got the same direction.
Regarding the flight sequences, they were exciting, but they got me believing the Apache could pretty much fly through the eye of the needle backwards if it wanted to. If you thought those Tomcats were agile, check out the Apache. The editing makes the thing look like a freaking hummingbird on steroids. Flippies, loop-de-loops, Pugachev's Cobra, these things could do it all. They even take out a jet with rockets—not missiles—rockets. Granted, that jet pilot was pretty dumb, but still. The second jet got shot down by Sean Young who, under the instruction of Tommy Lee Jones, pulled a Stinger missile off the downed Apache, loaded it into a shoulder-launched system, and took it out.
I have to recognize Tommy Lee Jones for his performance. No one plays curmudgeonly like Jones. He also got the best minute of dialog with about four breaths in between. Here's the script excerpt, with Tommy Lee Jones as Brad Little and Nicolas Cage as Jake Preston.
It's beautiful in an ugly kind of way somebody called it a flying race car with guns but that's bullshit it's not that simple. Here. Put your hands here, here and there, put your feet here, here, here, and here, and here, do not step here (breath) or there.
(Seven second pause with a breath)
That's it, crawl right on in there, lad. Riding in the gunner's seat of this aircraft at a 150 knots through the treetops is like having your ass strapped to the nose of a bullet.
Basically you will be flying like a bat out of Hell, you will be shooting at the enemy, you will be jinking around, dodging bullets, and missiles, and rocks, and arrows, and spears, and ducks, and geese.
Sounds like a full time job.
Boy you will be busier than a three-peckered goat.
Sadly that's the peak of the dialog, and it never got better than that, but what a doozy. I was breathless just from listening to it. Well, that's not entirely true. There was the one line where Nicolas Cage's character says, "I'm gonna kill him now!" Why thank you, thank you Nicolas Cage for letting me know what you were going to do right before you did it. I really need the warning.
The one real standout Nicolas Cage scene, though, had him in a large helicopter simulator playing a game that was essentially Virtua Chopper. He was only piloting the thing mind you, so the gunner was the one actually shooting things down. For thirty seconds of this scene, Nicolas Cage yelled "I am the greatest!" over and over and louder and louder until his lungs gave out. But really, how could anybody deny the truth?
And to end on one final note for both Mrs. Winterbottom and Decepticon Sky Commander A, the answer is yes, Nicolas Cage does kick the air. He kicks it hard.
My shitty movie rating: 7.5 turds out of 10. Quite respectable and worth a look, especially if you enjoyed "Top Gun" but despised the smart dialog and homoerotic undertones.