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Space Cowboys

An old Russian radio satellite is falling out of orbit, and the only guys who can fix it are four old geezer pilots who were passed over by NASA 40 years ago.


Frank Corvin (Clint Eastwood) is an ex-Air Force test pilot and engineer who was bumped from the space program in the 1950s, when the government sent a chimpanzee into orbit instead. Now, Corvin finally gets his chance: NASA needs him (and his four ex-USAF pilot buddies too) to right the course of a derelict Russkie space platform. The old farts manage to pass the space agency's physical endurance tests (James Garner silently curses all those beef commercials he did), but when they reach orbit they get more than they bargained for: the Russian satellite comes with a surprise payload!


What can you say? Clint is Clint, a bad dude as always, even in his autumn years. If he burst into your office and told you he was the only guy capable of saving the world, so you'd better send his behind into space, you know you'd do it. The other septuagenarians (or thereabouts, give or take 15 years) are all in fine form: Donald Sutherland turns a nice performance as the aging lady killer, with loose dentures and dim vision; Tommy Lee Jones is the dear, estranged friend with a rough-and-tough exterior and a sensitive inside; Jim Garner is the guy who grew up and became a priest.


If a movie like "Armageddon" could age and mature like a human being, then it might look something like "Space Cowboys" in a few decades: slower, wiser, deliberate, reserved, not nearly as loud or flashy. It'd also be older and grayer, and it'd have Frank Sinatra on the soundtrack instead of Aerosmith. But there would still be a guy who sacrifices himself to save the world (hey, that one never goes out of style).

The Bottom Line

Not quite "The Right Stuff," but no "Supernova," either.


Starring Clint Eastwood, Tommy Lee Jones, James Garner, James Cromwell and Donald Sutherland

Directed by Clint Eastwood. Written by Ken Kaufman and Howard Klauser. Produced by Clint Eastwood and Andrew Lazar. Released by Warner Bros.