It's simultaneously funny and sad that Clint Eastwood's films seem as old as he does. His plots are so simplistic they guarantee that any geriatric who has napped off during the film will be able to wake up and reattach themselves to the story within seconds (unless they nap off again). The foreshadowing is so ridiculously overdone that the resulting plot twists are about as shocking as the dull moments of an Al Gore speech.
To wit, Frank Corvin (Eastwood) and Hawk Hawkins (Tommy Lee Jones) do some training in the space shuttle simulator during which Hawk performs one of the most daring landings NASA has ever seen. You think that might show up in the film again when they pilot the real shuttle? No, of course not. Furthermore, Corvin's navigational system has somehow been used in a Russian satellite and everybody keeps asking Bob Gerson (James Cromwell) just how this happened, and he keeps saying "Duh, I don't know." It's not exactly a big shock when Eastwood reveals that there's more to this satellite than Gerson is letting on.
Corvin and Hawkins are part of Team Daedalus, which also includes Jerry O'Neill (Donald Sutherland) and Tank Sullivan (James Garner), who were the original Air Force pilots trained to be the first Americans in space. Unfortunately, they were replaced by a monkey. Thus, they've been sitting on their asses for forty years, just waiting for some Russian satellite to fall out of the sky so they can convince NASA to finally send them into space to fix it.
Eastwood is hardly interested in taking a serious look at the challenges faced by older people. In "Space Cowboys," he tackles this sensitive issue by making jokes about how all their friends seem to be dying. Like Eastwood's sexual function, the film deteriorates rapidly as it sputters toward its inevitable end. Is anybody else tired of death being treated as some great opportunity? Eastwood is so obviously afraid of his own mortality that he treats a particularly morbid event in the film like the end of an episode of "Sesame Street." I suggest that when Eastwood finally kicks off, he have himself stuffed so that the taxidermist can sew a permanent grin on his face and make everyone believe death isn't some hideous, unpleasant event so much as a geriatric's last thrill ride.
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