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Film: Firefox

"You must think in Russian."
Dr. Baronovich

1982 Movie adaptation of Craig Thomas' 1977 novel, the first real technothriller, starring, directed by and produced by Clint Eastwood. The Soviet Union has developed a new superplane, the MiG 31, called by the Americans "Firefox". It's capable of Mach 6, can't be detected on radar and has weapons launched by thought (but in Russian of course).

There are some differences from the novel,note  but Thomas fans like the adaptation and Thomas himself dedicated his sequel book Firefox Down to Eastwood.

Note that there is in fact, an actual MiG-31 (NATO reporting name Foxhound) and that it reached service in the same year as the movie reached theatres. It's far lamer than its movie counterpart: the only thing it can do well is go really fast.

Amusing note: when reconnaissance photos of the Firefox's predecessor, the MiG-25 "Foxbat", first came to light, its huge wings and apparent manoeuvrability promised thereby caused a panic in the US military. It was only when a defector brought a copy over that the truth came out: the thing was made of a very heavy alloy, needed huge wings just to get off the ground, couldn't dogfight to save its life and had a very short range. That said, it was very fast, faster than anything modern any air force fields today, and its apparent purpose, high-ceiling heavy interceptor (fast delivery of a missile platform) and reconnaissance bomber duty, did not involve dogfighting. Simply put, it wasn't actually intended to be a fighter.

In the novel, when a character points out the Belenko defection, and resultant false alarm, as a reason not to panic about the "Firefox", another tells him that their information is that the plane is seriously as good as feared.

Predates by two decades and has nothing at all to do with the web browser Mozilla Firefox.

This movie contains examples of:

  • Awakening the Sleeping Giant: Gant is infiltrating the Soviet Union as a common smuggler, in the hope that this will attract less attention from the KGB.
    "If you tip-toe past the dragon, it might just raise an eyelid and sniff at you. But if you awaken it..."
  • California Doubling: Vienna stands in for Moscow, for obvious reasons. Hilariously combined with Television Geography - Clint Eastwood enters subway line U1 at Karlsplatz, but gets off at Schönbrunn, a U4 station.
  • The Can Kicked Him: Grant ambushes the real Firefox pilot in the pilot's bathroom, and then spends as much time as he can hiding in there.
  • Chekhov's Gun: A literal example, the rearward-defense pods. Not flares but aerial mines, which he uses to great effect on the second Firefox, destroying it.
    • Of course, that's not what he says in his mangled Russian. It sounds very much like "release second missiles" (in plural form, for some reason; no sane person would talk to a computer in a plural/respectful manner).
      • Probably similar to how American pilots will call out "Fox 3" when firing a special weapon, which in this case, would be a very literal interpretation. Saying/Thinking "Release second missiles" is basically saying "fire special weapons" or to an American...Fox 3.
    • The moment before he launches the mines, he remembers that he's supposed to think in Russian for the mind-reading computer to react. It's all well and good, except he apparently forgot under the stress of facing his first serious threat of the movie — the other MiG-31 prototype.
  • Cool Plane
  • Darkest Hour: Gant manages against all odds to get Firefox to the refueling point on dry tanks, and sees only an empty ice floe. He figures he's going down in the Arctic Ocean for the last time, when suddenly he spots the refueling vessel: a submarine.
  • Dirty Communists: A narration, by a dissident, of a few Kick the Dog moments are awkwardly tacked in just so you know stealing their plane is the right thing to do.
  • Fictional Document: The exchange of memos between two SIS agents at the beginning, developing the plan to steal the aircraft.
  • Grand Theft Prototype: Of the Firefox.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Pretty much every single double agent dies getting Gant to the plane.
  • Idiot Ball: Gant's explicitly warned to watch his speed going through the Ural mountains to avoid tripping listening posts. What does he do? Opens the MiG-31 up to SR-71 speeds. Results in Crowning Moment of Awesome as everything turns into a blur, but immediately blows the "head-south-go-north" gambit up in his face.
  • I Owe You My Life: Gant has a chance to kill the Firefox pilot but refuses to kill a helpless, innocent man. In the Firefox-vs-Firefox dogfight later, the prototype pilot returns the favor.
  • It May Help You on Your Quest: Before he goes to Russia, Gant is handed an ordinary looking radio. He's then told it's a navigational device meant to guide Firefox to a secret refueling point — and that if he loses it in Russia, he's dead. It doesn't figure in the plot until he's well into his flight at which time he pulls it out and uses it as intended.
  • It Sucks to Be the Chosen One: Gant is yanked out of his isolated, PTSD-soaked life and thrust straightaway into a spy mission.
  • Lzherusskie: Loads and loads of Lzherusskie.
  • Mnogo Nukes: A Tu-16 "Badger", a "Moskva" class helicopter carrier.
  • No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup: Averted - Gant is chased by the second prototype.
    • Despite being averted the Trope becomes self-fulfilling, as the second prototype is destroyed in the climactic final battle, and all of the lead developers are killed helping Gant steal the original.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: Gant, in spades. He's afflicted with PTSD throughout the movie, based on his experiences in Vietnam.
  • Shown Their Work: Alot of the Firefox flying scenes are laughable by today's computer-generated standards, but the dogfight was excellent. Specifically, Gant is forced to whipstall the Firefox to avoid a pair of missiles, triggering a PTSD episode. The other pilot escorts him down, but does not deliver the fatal blow (see I Owe You My Life above). He recovers from the stall by deploying his landing gear, adding drag and slowing him down, and allowing him to pull up.
  • Skilled, but Naive: Gant's an ace Vietnam-era pilot but has no clue about playing spy games. As a result, he and The Mole leave a trail of bodies behind them.
  • Soviet Superscience: If not the Trope Maker, certainly a famous example.
  • Super Prototype: Two of them, actually.
  • Translation Convention: all of the Russians speak English to each other while trying to hunt Grant down.
  • Underestimating Badassery: For a while, the prototype pilot dogfights Gant by refusing to give him a clear shot for his aerial mines, but then assumes Gant doesn't know to use them and switches to conventional dogfight tactics. At the end of the dogfight, Gant finally remembers how to fire an aerial mine and destroys the second prototype.
    • To be fair when briefed on the mine system by the lead designer, Gant was told it was designed as a countermeasure for missiles. Having never even touched the plane before taking it into the air, let alone running training missions with it, the idea of using it as an improvised weapon did not immediately occur to him.

Fast Times at Ridgemont HighFilms of the 1980sFitzcarraldo
Burn NoticeSpy FictionNick Fury

alternative title(s): Firefox; Firefox
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