Retro Review: Space Cowboys

Written: August 7, 2000

Can the pioneers who delivered us into the space age save us from a renegade relic from the Cold War? Clint thinks so.

“Space Cowboys” is for all those test pilots and early astronauts who never took the final flight into orbit.

In this story we focus on a man named Frank Corvin (Clint Eastwood), leader of Team Daedalus, who lost his chance for spaceflight back in 1958 when the space program was placed in the paws of a chimpanzee.

Humilated and disgraced Frank and his fellow test pilots were grounded and never got to feel the actual glory of spaceflight.

Well that was until a twist of fate occurred and a huge Russian communication satellite called IKON began crashing into the earth’s atmosphere.

A relic of the Cold War the satellite just happens to have the same navigation equipment as the now defunct Skylab and as NASA scrambles to find a guy low-tech enough to handle the problem they bump into Frank Corvin’s name. Frank just happened to have created the equipment used in the Skylab and in IKON.

Convinced that it will take all of his crew from the past to complete the assignment Frank negotiates with NASA to resurrect Team Daedalus so that his second chance can be felt with all his old teammates.

“Space Cowboys” reminded me a lot of the old film “Tough Guys” with Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas as we watch four guys from an era long gone trying to come to terms with the way life is today.

I liked the chemistry between the team and their tongue in cheek jokes. Their attitudes and grasping of life will enchant a lot of movie goers who really love someone to cheer for. I liked the friction between the old and new space programs even though it did at times make me wonder why they were portrayed to be stupid.

Sure “Cowboys” is a fantasy film but I liked how they tried so very hard to keep it down to earth in the first three quarters. It’s the last quarter I really had a problem with. The belief that these guys were so down to earth seems to be shattered as soon as they uncover the secret of their true mission.

Through that journey we seem to lose who they are as a team and their whole charisma. I liked the scene close to the end of Eastwood floating across the Earth and finally realizing he did make it. But after that the film seemed rushed and I never fully understood what they were actually doing to stop the eminent threat.

When you see “Cowboys” ask yourself one question was the crisis involved in Tommy Lee’s character really needed to reach the final result?

(4 out of 5)

So Says the Soothsayer.

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