I hadn’t seen this movie in ages. Probably about ten years. I remembered it as a classic 1970s conspiracy thriller, full of suspense and intrigue. Then a couple days ago it made its way to the top of my Netflix cue and I popped it into the DVD player.
What a piece of crap.
First, I had somehow managed to block from my mind the fact that one of the astronauts is none other than world-class thespian OJ Simpson.
First there’s Elliot Gould’s spectacular non-performance as the investigative journalist Uncovering The Truth. The highlight of his portrayal is when he’s been framed for drug posession (after he survives plunging off a bridge in his sabotaged car) and manages to draw this conclusion: “You guys are the ones behind all of this. You mothers.” You’d think he would at least try to be a little pissed off.
Then there’s the obnoxious runner involving Gould’s hot reporter partner, played by Karen Black, who keeps insisting that Gould wants to jump her.
There are the miniatures of helicopters, jets and cropdusters that all have the wrong proportions to one another and make no sense in the perspective of the plates stuck behind them.
But my favorite bit of cheesiness concerns the helicopter chase wherein the bad guys are tracking down the three astronauts who threaten to uncover their evil plot. There are two helicopters, and they’re always flying right next to each other. You’d think they’d realize that, “Hey, we have helicopters, let’s search two places at once!” But no. Then there’s one scene where the two helicopters come into frame, rising above a cliff, turn to look at one another, and then continue on. WTF was that all about?
Finally, at the very end, heroic astronaut James Brolin shows up at his own funural to reveal the truth. They wanted a slow-mo of him running through the cemetary towards his non-widow. But they didn’t bother to overcrank the camera, no, they just played it back at half speed! OK, that’s not so bad when you’re doing 12 frames a second, but then on every subsequent cut, they slow it down more, until the last shot of the movie is James running towards the camera at a whopping four frames per second.
Man, that was cheesy.