One thing that helps is that the writers actually make the mission believable. The quartet, who had been selected as the first astronauts 40 years earlier until they were replaced by a monkey, has been told by NASA that they are finally going into space. However, the secret plan is to leave them on the ground after they shared their know-how with much younger men. But the press gets wind of the mission (one headline is "The Ripe Stuff") and NASA has no choice but to launch them.
The movie telegraphs early on that there's more to the dead Russian space junk than meets the eye. And, of course, our guys have to save the world before they can get back to earth for a cold one.
But no matter--they do it with great style and Eastwood, as always, is in total command of situation, both on the screen and behind the camera.
It is actually a great diversion seeing the four actors doing a version of "Apollo 13" for the AARP set and proving teens don't have all the fun. Whether the golden oldies will turn out in large numbers to share the experience is the big question. Starring: Clint Eastwood, Tommy Lee Jones, Donald Sutherland and James Garner. Directed and produced by Clint Eastwood. Written by Ken Kaufman & Howard Klausner. A Warner Bros. release. Drama. Rated PG-13 for some language. Running time: 130 min