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FIRE BIRDS (1990) Revisited: Awfully Good Movie Review

With TOP GUN: MAVERICK finally hitting theaters and breaking box office records over the past Memorial Day weekend, Awfully Good Movies is feeling a need itself…the need for another Nicolas Cage review on his failed TOP GUN ripoff, 1990’s FIRE BIRDS!

22 years before the second GHOST RIDER, Nic was hoping to find a blockbuster hit for his career to balance out his weirder indie work like VAMPIRE’S KISS, and Disney’s Touchstone Pictures happened to have for him a wholly original script about a maverick Army soldier who enters a training program to help defend the US from a foreign threat while juggling a love affair with one of his flight instructors…not familiar at all!

But instead of a fighter jet, Nic is flying an Apache helicopter for the Army to fend off a drug cartel in South America during the crack epidemic of the 80s and 90s with the help of his mentor Tommy Lee Jones and former flame/fellow soldier Sean Young. Unfortunately, Cage’s crazy is clearly restrained by a limp script of cliches and overly edited dogfight sequences, and neither Tommy Lee or Sean Young can do much else than go through the motions.

Judging by the lack of Nic Cage memes that have emanated from this movie, it seems I’m not the only one who finds this flick to be a lifeless sludge through the TOP GUN formula that can’t even succeed as military/anti-drug propaganda. But it does have one big advantage that TOP GUN never did: two songs from Phil Collins on the soundtrack. Now that truly does take my breath away!

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