Final Approach (1991)

It is really hard to classify this one.

Or to know what to think about it.

A pilot crashes during the test of a new active stealth system and finds himself in a psychiatrist’s office.

Or is that what’s happening?

This is yet another example of that rarity, the two-man movie (it’s interesting to note that The Caller‘s Madolyn Smith turns up in a small part.  But surely that’s a coincidence – or is it?)  Most of the film plays out in the extended session between the pilot (played by ever-reliable TV actor James B. Sikken) and the psychiatrist (Hector Elizondo in a far more extreme version of the phlegmatic Dr. Bell character he’d later play on Monk) as the pilot tries to sort out who he is and why he’s there.  But, of course, it isn’t that simple, as the pilot’s flashbacks to his past and the secret mission keep interrupting his session.

This a remarkably well-made little film with an awful lot going for it.  One might quibble a bit about the premise of the flight test – that one could strip the titanium skin off an SR-71 and replace it with a composite (I’m not sure how much of the ultra-lightweight bird would be left if you did that!) but the footage of the venerable Blackbird is stellar and we can pretend we don’t know that it was all borrowed from a documentary.  The use of digital effects, animation and clever editing works quite well in these scenes, as does the frequent surreal imagery.

And who can help cheering when SF stalwart Kevin McCarthy puts in a surreal turn in a minor part?

But I’ll confess to being a little cold to this one, largely because of the rather extreme twist ending, which turns much of what we’ve seen into a huge MacGuffin.  I’m not certain how to react to it, although it should have been obvious as the film actually waves a huge clue in our faces at the one hour mark that almost has “LOOK AT ME, I’M IMPORTANT, DAMN IT!” written on it in big friendly letters.

Oh, well.  It’s enjoyable, well-made and interesting.

Your experience may vary, however.


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