Eye For Film >> Movies >> Space Cowboys (2000) Film Review
Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray
Clint Eastwood has been making ageist jokes for years. It's always a clever move to accuse yourself of being over the hill before the rest of the world thinks so.
Now he directs a geriatric adventure yarn that creaks with rusty sentiment and is as predictable as Meg Ryan.
Maybe John Glenn's return into orbit decades after retirement and becoming an American hero all over again spurred the scriptwriters, who shall remain nameless for their reputation's sake, to come up with a story of four senior citizens who don space suits and do the weightless boogie up there amongst the stars 30 years after they installed guiding systems into a Russian satellite.
The structure of the film follows conventional lines. First the introduction - James Garner is a priest, Donald Sutherland designs rollercoasters, Tommy Lee Jones scares paying customers in a biplane - followed by the training - naked backview flab shots, with gaspy interludes on the jogging track - and, after pausing for a tasteful romantic moment, the assignment itself - checking out "obsolete technology" on the satellite, only to discover a deadly secret active within.
Confrontation between the maverick oldsters and brash young bucks comes to nothing because the superfit new generation astronauts, two of whom accompany the grandads on their mission, either mess up, or flaff about.
Eastwood and Jones are the main men. Garner lags behind ("I'm too tired to chew," he bleats in the canteen) and Sutherland's charm is way past its sell-by date. The buddy banter hides deeper feelings, stiffening resolve and hardening the heart. What this movie says, with the help of some tasty effects, is that mature minds are worth more in a crisis than smart kids who lack the imagination to think for themselves.
Eventually it's nothing more than one for the boys, the good ole boys, with Frank Sinatra on the soundtrack and a sneaky suspicion that this space shuttle should have stayed grounded.Reviewed on: 19 Jan 2001