Release Date: May 25, 1990
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Tommy Lee Jones,
Sean Young, Bryan Kestner,
Dale Dye, Mary Ellen Trainor
Runtime: Approximately 90 minutes
Distributor: Touchstone Pictures/Buena
Director: David Green
Producer: William Badalato
Writer: Nick Thiel, Paul F. Edwards &
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Just how far the choppers and their crew can go is put to the test in Operation Fire Bird, when the Appache task force is assigned by the DEA to break up an international drug cartel in South America. Having witnessed two of his compatriots shot out of the sky by Eric Stoller, the cartel's hired mercenary (who flies an attack Scorpion helicopter), Jake Preston becomes the star pupil of Brad Little, a veteran Army helicopter pilot brought in to train the task force.
Billie Lee, a lack-luster, self-absorbed, liberated woman with her mind set on a career in the Army, is also on the task force with Jake, her former lover, but doesn't have time for Jake's serious quest for love and a happy family life. Little puts Jake through some strenuous training, turning him from a young, brazen pilot into an expert aerial avenger. Little himself wants to be part of the Operation, but is refused because the Army needs him to train more pilots. However, when the momentous day arrives, he is allowed to go on the mission.
The film's photography is superb. The dogfights between the Apache and Scorpion helicopters, as they hover, dive and dodge, are extremely realistic. The sound of helicopter blades fills the theater. For air-to-air combat buffs, the Apache boasts an unbelievable 1,700 horsepower engine and is capable of climbing 3,000 feet per minute at 225 mph. It is equipped with laser-guided tank-killing missiles, 70mm rockets, infrared and a 30mm automatic chaingun.
Unfortunately, this consummate battle between good and evil is over in a few minutes. Most of the movie is spent preparing for the fight with the enigmatic enemy, or dealing with the personal problems of Jake and Little. The film does make a strong statement that the government must bring drug kingpins to justice. As Romans 13:4 says, "For [the authority] is God's minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God's minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil."
However, the helicopter teams absolutely revel in obliterating the evildoers, which ought not to be our attitude, even in war. For God says, "'As I live' says the Lord God, 'I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live'" (Ezekiel 33:11).
More importantly, is the film's mistaken belief that the war on drugs can be won by simply drying up the supply. In reality, success won't come until the demand for drugs is eliminated. The best way to accomplish this is by introducing drug addicts to the only Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Unless you are an Army helicopter pilot, you probably will not want to consider seeing FIRE BIRDS. There are numerous profanities and obscenities and a totally contrived and unnecessary pre-marital sex scene.
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