Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Clint Eastwood|
|Produced by||Clint Eastwood|
|Written by||Craig Thomas (author, source novel)|
|Based on||Firefox (novel)|
|Music by||Maurice Jarre|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros.|
|Running time||136 minutes|
Though the film was set in Russia, authentic filming locations were not possible due to the Cold War, forcing Eastwood's and Fritz Manes's Malpaso Company to rely on Vienna and other locations in Austria to double for many of the Eurasian story locations. The film was shot on a $21 million budget.
A joint Anglo-American plot is devised to steal a highly advanced Soviet fighter aircraft (MiG-31, NATO code name "Firefox") which is capable of Mach 6, is invisible to radar, and carries weapons controlled by thought. Former United States Air Force Major Mitchell Gant, a Vietnam veteran and former POW, infiltrates the Soviet Union, aided by his ability to speak Russian (due to his having had a Russian mother) and a network of Jewish dissidents and sympathizers, three of whom are key scientists working on the fighter itself. His goal is to steal the Firefox and fly it back to friendly territory for analysis.
However, the KGB has got wind of the operation and is already hot on Gant's tail. It is only through the sympathizers that Gant remains one step ahead of the KGB and reaches the air base at Bilyarsk, where the Firefox prototype is under heavy guard. The dissident scientists working on the Firefox help Gant infiltrate the base. Dr. Pyotr Baranovich (Nigel Hawthorne), one of the scientists, informs Gant that there is a second prototype in the hangar that must be destroyed. The diversion will allow Gant to enter the hangar and escape with the first Firefox. Gant knocks out Lt. Colonel Yuri Voskov (Kai Wulff), a Soviet pilot assigned to take the first prototype on its maiden flight during a visit from the Soviet First Secretary. The scientists attempt the destruction of the second prototype to give Gant time to suit up and start the first fighter, but the second prototype is not destroyed, and the scientists are executed by the guards. Fortunately for Gant, he escapes the hangar and lifts off just as the First Secretary arrives.
Evading the Soviets' attempts to stop him, Gant barely reaches the Arctic ice pack for refueling, making a rendezvous with a US submarine whose crew refuels and rearms the aircraft. However, Gant's last-minute refusal to kill Voskov has consequences; the Soviet pilot flies the second prototype, with orders to wait for him at the North Cape area. Gant completes the rendezvous and is on the way home when Voskov engages him in a dogfight. After a long battle, Gant barely manages to fire one of his rearward missiles and Voskov's plane is destroyed. Satisfied that there are no other Soviet forces chasing him, Gant begins his flight to safety.
- Clint Eastwood as Mitchell Gant
- Freddie Jones as Kenneth Aubrey
- David Huffman as Buckholz
- Warren Clarke as Pavel Upenskoy
- Ronald Lacey as Semelovsky
- Kenneth Colley as Colonel Kontarsky
- Klaus Löwitsch as General Vladimirov
- Nigel Hawthorne as Dr. Pyotr Baranovich
- Stefan Schnabel as General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev
- Thomas Hill as General Brown
- Clive Merrison as Mahor Lanyev
- Kai Wulff as Lt. Colonel Yuri Voskov
- Dimitra Arliss as Dr. Natalia Baranovich
- Austin Willis as Walters
- Michael Currie as Captain Seerbacker
- Alan Tilvern as Air Marshal Kutuzov
- John Ratzenberger as Chief Peck
- Wolf Kahler as KGB Chief Yuri Andropov
The film was based on the creation of a "mythical" super fighter: the MiG-31 Firefox. The original Firefox from the novel was, cosmetically, nearly identical to the MiG-25, of which it was an advanced version. The real Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-31 "Foxhound" is also similar in appearance to the MiG-25 and generally regarded to be derived from it. The more intimidating version seen in the movie was created specifically for the film, and takes many of its design cues from the North American XB-70 Valkyrie. In the sequel novel, Firefox Down!, the Firefox's appearance is described as matching the one in the film. For filming, four large-scale replicas were created, along with one full-size model that had dimensions of 66 feet long, 44 feet wide, and 20 feet high. The full-size model was built from a radio station broadcast-antenna skeleton and was capable of taxiing at 30–40 mph.
Special effects supervisor John Dykstra pioneered a new technique for shooting the complex flying sequences, called reverse blue-screen photography. This involved coating the model with phosphorus paint and photographing it first with strong lighting against a black background and then with ultraviolet light to create the necessary male and female mattes to separate the foreground model and the background footage. This enabled the shiny black model to be photographed flying against a clear blue sky and gleaming white snow; compare this with traditional bluescreen technique used in The Empire Strikes Back.
Author Howard Hughes gave the film a negative review, "Watch the trailer, read the book, play the game — just avoid the film, it's another Eiger Sanction. Less a 'Firefox', it's more of a damp squib, or at best a smoldering turkey."
Video game 
See also 
- Hughes 2009, p. 198.
- As Yuri Andropov was head of the KGB at the time of both the novel's publication and the film's production, his actual appearance was not widely known outside the USSR at the time of either. When he succeeded Konstantin Chernenko as CPSU General Secretary, it became widely known, but too late for recasting, forcing Eastwood and Manes to retain Wolf Kahler, who bore no resemblance to the real Andropov, in the role.
- Thomas 1982, p. 29.
- Munn, p. 187
- Munn, p. 185
- Hughes 2009, p. 200.
- Culhane, John. Special Effects in the Movies: How They Do It. New York: Ballantine Books, 1981. ISBN 0-345-28606-5.
- Hardwick, Jack and Ed Schnepf. "A Viewer's Guide to Aviation Movies." The Making of the Great Aviation Films, General Aviation Series, Volume 2, 1989.
- Hughes, Howard. Aim for the Heart. London: I.B. Tauris, 2009. ISBN 978-1-84511-902-7.
- Munn, Michael. Clint Eastwood: Hollywood's Loner. London: Robson Books, 1992. ISBN 0-86051-790-X.
- Thomas, Craig. Firefox. New York: Holt Rinehart and Winston, 1977. ISBN 0-03-020791-6.
- Thomas, Walter. "Filming Firefox." Air Classics, Vol. 44, No. 9, September 1982.
- Firefox at the Internet Movie Database
- Firefox (film) at AllRovi
- Firefox (film) at the TCM Movie Database
- Detailed online resource focusing on the technical and design aspects of this fictional aircraft