Houston, We Have Liftoff

Clint Eastwood's "Space Cowboys" is at least three different movies--high-tech thriller, low-key comedy, rumination on aging--jammed together into an implausible but very likable entertainment. The idea of Eastwood, James Garner, Donald Sutherland and Tommy Lee Jones (the first two in their 70s, one in his mid-60s and 53-year-old Jones) donning their astronaut helmets after three decades of inactivity to go on a high-risk NASA expedition into space may be farfetched, but with actors as sly and seasoned as these, who'll complain? Clint reassembles the members of Team Daedalus--whose dreams of making it to space were dashed back in the late '50s--for a mission to repair an obsolete Russian communications satellite. The old satellite has the same guidance system as one Eastwood designed: no one else, it seems, is capable of fixing it.

Eastwood's movie, written by Ken Kaufman and Howard Klausner, throws in an old bureaucratic nemesis (James Cromwell) to oversee our heroes; cranks up the pathos by giving Jones both a love interest (Marcia Gay Harden) and inoperable cancer, and waits until our boys are in deep space to spring some dubious last-minute surprises. These strained plot contortions aren't really necessary: the funny, amiable heart of the movie is in the scenes of these tough old duffers scamming their way through the training program. The movie itself, like these guys, is defiantly old school--confident, relaxed, professional. These four stars, with more than 260 years of experience among them, know how to get the job done.

Space CowboysWarner Bros.

Houston, We Have Liftoff | News