NASA is in a tight bind. A Russian communication satellite is about to come crashing down to Earth and the only ones to stop that from happening is a group of elderly former test pilots who will finally get a chance to fulfill their dreams of becoming astronauts.
Clint Eastwood, Tommy Lee Jones, Donald Sutherland and James Garner bring along their old macho ways of doing things, chips on their shoulders and a strong determination to pass their physicals all in the hope to make their forty year old dream of traveling to space come true.
Space Cowboys gives you exactly what you expect. You want to see a group of older actor have fun playing off each other, have a couple of comedic moments as they butt heads with old rivals and younger co-workers, see a romance bloom, engage in some tense space drama when the mission gets dangerous, get a smile on your face as you watch this crew prove just because they’re senior citizens doesn’t make them any less capable at accomplishing this mission.
Check, check, check, check, check and CHECK!
It’s all a completely implausible high-concept vehicle for this quartet of actors, but once you accept this is a silly excuse of a story for these actors to come together, their charm and camaraderie carries you through this clichéd tale. It’s easy to describe it as Grumpy Old Men Meet Armageddon. Ok, that’s a fair description. There’s really no surprises, but the story takes a backseat to the cast who alone make it all a fun enough adventure.
The special effects I always thought were better than I anticipated. A good supporting cast like James Cromwell, Marcia Gay Harden, William Devene and Blair Brown comes along for the ride. You’re treated to watching Eastwood, Jones, Sutherland and Garner go for broke having laughs at their age. Although, I thought Jones was bit too young to play a contemporary of the other three.
It’s not a great movie and is certainly one of Eastwood’s most conventional films. You wouldn’t place this as a career high for any of this Mount Rushmore of actors, but it’s still enjoyable enough. Unlike our heroes it’s not reaching for the stars. This wasn’t going to win any Oscars, but just be an amicable pleasant movie.