Wednesday, 1 December 2010

The Flight of the Intruder

The Flight of the Intruder is a throw back in time film where the enemy is always bad and in the wrong and destroying the enemy achieves personal satisfaction and glory.

Its the film of a Michael Crichton novel set in the Vietnam War as the USA recognises it is a war it cannot win and looks for an honourable way out.

The story is simple and brief. An individual US Navy flyer of Intruder bombers becomes angry at the decision to limit activities to radar installations in the south as peace talks top the agenda. Planes and individual pilots and crew, including his best friend are still being killed. Is this right and if not what can he do about it.

His co pilot replacement arrives with a mixed reputation. It is suggested that having been shot down he left an injured comrade who is then killed before a rescue team can pick up. There is another side to this story which is revealed to show the officer in a better light.

The new man helps to get the disgruntled officer and a new replacement pilot out of bar brawl. The disgruntled officer also spends the night with a young woman whose husband has been killed leaving her and a daughter. She is not ready to go home but when she does they agree to keeping communication so the man has something to live for, as does she. The relationship in the book is stronger and underpins the story which is the film it does not.

The disgruntled man persuades the new co pilot to go on a bombing mission to Hanoi after seeing a film in which captured weapons, including rockets, are put on display in the equivalent of Red Square. The mission is suicidal but a great success and they return to face the inevitable court marshal which could include the death penalty or dishonourable discharge at best. However when the Court meets to determine sentence it is advised that all the charges must be dropped and the men returned to duty on orders of the President Nixon. After the North Vietnamese had broken off the peace talks the President orders that bombing of the North should begin again and therefore it would be a disaster if the men were punished for doing something a few days before the new orders are issued. The head of their flight command is a tough no nonsense disciplinarian Danny Glover who makes an issue of being a Black Italian son of the Mafia called Camparelli. He has no respect for their action and wants them off the ship,

The Commander is himself shot down over enemy territory and the two disgraced but reinstated men mount an individual rescue mission. They rescue the Commander who is promoted to Command his own ship and he says he will be pleased to have the surviving officer with him.

In the film the co pilot with a history sacrifices himself, while in the book he is rescued. Commander Camparelli does not fly a mission or get shot down in the book. In the film they cause effective damage to the depot of surface to air missiles. In the book the target is the Political National Assembly building which they fail to destroy. The film can be seen as an attempt to glorify individual actions in a war where the conduct of USA forces has been constantly

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