Big Movie Zone Blog Press Releases Teacher's Guides Community
Features and Reviews

BMZ Review: Fighter Pilot: Operation Red Flag
By Ann Coates

bigImage

Fighter Pilot: Operation Red Flag
Written by: Ann Coates
Source: Big Movie Zone
Date: December 20, 2004

     

Category: Reviews

Fighter Pilot: Operation Red Flag, a film released in the midst of the U.S. war effort against Iraq, may initially be suspected as a promotion of the current conflict overseas, thus dividing its audience into those who support the war from those who do not.  That, however, would be an incorrect assumption.  Fighter Pilot focuses not on the war (in fact it never directly comments on it), but on the admirable aviators and soldiers within the Air Force, and their participation in the military training program known as Red Flag.

Directed by Large Format vet Stephen Low, Fighter Pilot follows Captain John Stratton, a young and ambitious pilot, as he experiences the two-week-long training called "Red Flag."  The program itself is a series of exercises that challenge and ready its participants before they are sent into actual combat.  Naturally, aerial combat comprises the meat of the film, and our initiation into Red Flag is through the classic dogfight.  This first combat sequence, although for the most part confusing, nevertheless provides an unnerving glimpse into the ordered chaos of air skirmishes.  As the film progresses, the subsequent exercises are more fleshed out, easier to follow and thus more compelling.

Ironically, one of the most thrilling scenes occurs on the ground.  A breathtaking sequence where fighter jets deploy a series of bombs on ground units, this particular exercise displays the terrible and frightening power of our military weaponry.  The mention of "live bombs" sends a chill, and for good reason.  Explosions, so lately blasé when captured on film, are again made remarkable in Fighter Pilot through the effective use of the immersive quality of large format cinema.  Destructive, encompassing and very loud, the film documents the grim reality of a bombing attack.

The film also does a fine job of depicting the women enlisted in the Air Force, an important facet so often overlooked in films concerning the armed forces.  Their active contributions are not merely hinted at once or twice in Fighter Pilot but appear throughout Red Flag in their training as pilots, ground crew and maintenance.  This aspect is characteristic of the entire film in its meticulous attention to teamwork and not individual glory.

What is surprisingly integrated in the film is a convincing storyline, a quite uncommon quality in the Large Format genre.  The story works mostly due to the inherent drama contained in such a challenging training program as Red Flag.  From the search & rescue operation to the destruction of enemy ground forces, the film successfully documents the tension and suspense of these exercises.  Still, Fighter Pilot is prone to bouts of sappiness found mostly in Stratton's narration about his grandfather which bookend the film.

Though obviously promoting the US and allied air forces, the film nevertheless offers a rare inside view of the military, especially of the hard work and persistence of those enlisted.  Straightforward in its telling, Fighter Pilot pays tribute to the armed forces while providing a stunning array of aerial visuals in the process.

Agree/Disagree With This Review?

Post Your Own Review | Read User Reviews | Check For Outside Reviews

Additional BMZ Reviews of Fighter Pilot: Operation Red Flag

Simulated War by Ross Anthony

Movie Reviews by Ann Coates

Amazing Mighty Micro Monsters
A Beautiful Planet
Asteroid: Mission Extreme
National Parks Adventure
Wild Africa
Living in the Age of Airplanes
Journey to Space
Humpback Whales 3D
Robots 3D
Antarctica: On The Edge
The Great Apes 3D
Dark Universe
Tiny Giants 3D
Antarctica's Penguin Emperors 3D
Galapagos 3D: Nature's Wonderland
Walking with Dinosaurs: Prehistoric Planet 3D
Penguins 3D
Space Junk 3D
Dinosaur Passage to Pangaea
Flying Monsters 3D
Rescue (3D)
Cosmic Journey: Through Hubble and Cassini
Born to Be Wild
My Dream 3D
The Little Prince
Tornado Alley
Waking the T. Rex: The Story of Sue 3D
Magic Journey to Africa (3D)
Furusato: World Heritage Sites Viewed from Space
Legends of Flight 3D
Inception: The IMAX Experience
Arabia 3D
The Wildest Dream: Conquest of Everest
Quantum Quest: A Cassini Space Odyssey
The Ultimate Wave Tahiti 3D
Avatar: An IMAX 3D Experience
Molecules to the MAX!
Monsters vs. Aliens: An IMAX 3D Experience
Under the Sea 3D
Van Gogh: Brush With Genius
Journey to Mecca: In the Footsteps of Ibn Battuta
Animalopolis
Mysteries of the Great Lakes
The Dark Knight: The IMAX Experience
Grand Canyon Adventure: River at Risk (3D)
Sea Monsters: A Prehistoric Adventure (3D/2D)
Dinosaurs: Giants of Patagonia (3D/2D)
Dinosaurs Alive! (3D/2D)
The Alps
Hurricane on the Bayou
Ride Around the World
Greece: Secrets of the Past
Wired to Win: Surviving the Tour de France
Deep Sea (3D/2D)
Vikings: Journey to New Worlds
Mystic India
Fighter Pilot: Operation Red Flag

Articles Archive: Newest to Oldest


Reviews Archive: Newest to Oldest