Afterburn (1992)

TV Movie   |  R   |    |  Drama


Afterburn (1992) Poster

Based on a true story, one woman takes on the U.S. military and General Dynamics; maker of the F-16, thought to be the very best tactical fighter in the world. Air Force Captain Theodore T.... See full summary »

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6.2/10
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5 August 2003 | rmax304823
Low-Class Floozie Fights Injustice
There were a spate of movies that came out over the course of a decade or so in which ordinary women, rather than saints, saw injustice in the system and fought against it. In "Marie," Sissy Spacek was the woman next door who just happened to stumble over state corruption and righted it despite resistance. That was in, I think, 1984. A few years later, Jodie Foster turned in a first-rate performance as a victimized woman who fights the legal bureaucracy in "The Accused." The innovate feature of "Accused" was that Foster played a young woman who was not only less than saintly but positively low-class. The film won Foster an Academy Award and it must have light a few light bulbs among the MBAs who greenlight projects, because in 2000, Julia Roberts won accolades for a similar part.

This one, starring Laura Dern, and featuring Loggia, Spano, and perennial heavy Rooker, among others, came in between -- 1992. And it really is derivative. Vincent Spano is a sexy pilot and Dern is a sexy waitress in a saloon. She brash and vulgar. She talks back to authority figures and smartasses smug housewives. She smokes. She wears her golden hair up in a great big pile on top of her head. She wears cheap-looking clothes, and she's easy. We can all recognize her as exactly the type of girl a Captain in the United States Air Force, an officer and a gentleman by act of Congress, would propose marriage to.

But, not to worry. The producers and writers must have realized that if they wanted to hook the female audience, this coarseness could only be taken so far. Therefore, as the movie progresses, so does Dern. She remains an outspoken woman, of course, but her demeanor and grooming change, gradually, until by the end she is perfectly fashionable by any middle-class definition.

It's not Dern's fault. She gives the role everything she's got and is quite good, throwing her ectomorphic body with those endlessly long legs around so carelessly. Her face is an interesting object as well, long and thin, with appealing blonde hair and darker brows and lashes. Spano is handsome too, I suppose, although we see a bit more of him than we need to perhaps. Robert Loggia is his dependable self. Rooker plays a mixed-up family friend who's heart is in the right place.

General Dynamics is the villain here. Spano's F-16 nosedives into the ground. The Air Force deems it pilot error, but Dern, the faithful wife, knows there is what she calls "a cover up." And so there is. General Dynamics is taken to court. No power on earth could force me to reveal who wins the case.

The plot is conventionally structured. The music stays in the background. The location shooting, in Southern California, isn't bad. It's derivative, yes, but so were several films that followed "Accused." That floozy business is the most interesting part of the pattern, though, and this made-for-TV movie gets rid of it pretty quickly.

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Did You Know?

Trivia

Richard Jenkins and Walter Addison appeared in And the Band Played On (1993) and Fun with Dick and Jane (2005).


Quotes

Janet Harduvel: I know it wasn't Ted's fault. I'm not coming back here until I prove it.


Goofs

During the funeral, the flag is shown draped over the casket with the field of blue over what would be the right shoulder or left foot of the deceased. In a funeral where the flag is used, the field of blue should be over the left shoulder of the deceased and the casket carried feet first. Note: Although later in the movie it is mentioned that only the hands were recovered from the accident and were the only contents of the casket, the flag would still be displayed with the field of blue covering where the left shoulder would be, had there been an entire body.


Crazy Credits

On appeal, the court ruled that although Janet Harduvel had presented substantial evidence of design defect in the F-16, General Dynamics was protected from liability as a government contractor. Accordingly, the $3.1 million damage award was overturned. Ted Harduvel's name remains clear. To date, more than 140 F-16s have crashed from a variety of causes. More than 40 pilots have died. The Air Force maintains that the F-16 is "the safest single engine fighter of all time". Janet Harduvel is continuing her legal battle against General Dynamics.


Soundtracks

Roll The Dice
Written by
Donald Markowitz (ASCAP) & Steve Schiff (BMI)
Performed by Robbyn Kirmsse
Published by Donald Joy Music Ltd. & Property Situation Music

Storyline

Plot Summary


Genres

Drama

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