Frank Corvin, "Hawk" Hawkins, Jerry O'Neill and Tank Sullivan were hotdog members of Project DAEDALUS, the Air Force's test program for space travel. Their hopes were dashed in 1958 with the formation of NASA and the use of trained chimps. They blackmail their way into orbit when Russia's mysterious Ikon communications satellite's orbit begins to degrade and threatens to crash into Earth.
The second half of Clint Eastwood's new movie is a pleasant reworking of the standard trouble-in-space movie, with Mr. Eastwood himself leading a heroic team of astronauts that also includes Tommy Lee Jones, Donald Sutherland and James Garner. But the first half, which consists of the comic, tough-old-guy interplay among these four sublime actors, is a boisterous, easygoing tribute to manhood and maturity. Mr. Sutherland and Mr. Jones are in especially fine form, as are Marcia Gay Harden, playing a NASA engineer, and James Cromwell as (once again) the villainous bureaucrat who tries to deny the old-timers their shot at celestial glory. — A. O. Scott
2000-08-04 | A. O. Scott | Read the New York Times Review of Space Cowboys