Awesomely Horrible Netflix Instant Films: “The Rocketeer”

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Michael Garcia - July 7, 2016

Film is an inexact science. Sometimes a studio will invest a ton of money into a movie, market the hell out of it, and it totally fails. It just sits there like a turd in the wind and stinks. These films tend to get swept under the rug as a kind of embarrassment by the studio. It kind of makes them look stupid for having backed the wrong horse, as it were. But some movies bomb REALLY big and are REALLY embarrassing to the studio. The Rocketeer is such a film.

Billy Campbell stars as Cliff Seccord, a hotshot stunt pilot who is dating aspiring actress Jennifer Connelly. When some gangsters crash into his airplane while running from the FBI, they hide a super secret rocket pack designed by Howard Hughes in the hanger. Billy Campbell finds it and has ideas about using it to make money. We then find out that the gangsters stole the rocket pack under the pay of Timothy Dalton, who is kind of an Errol Flynn style movie star. Billy Campbell uses the jet pack to save his friend from crashing his plane and then the press call him The Rocketeer. Meanwhile, Timothy Dalton tries to woo Jennifer Connelly to try and get close to Billy Campbell. It turns out that Timothy Dalton is a Nazi spy, (DUM! DUM! DUM!) and he was stealing the pack for Hitler. All of this convoluted mess ends when Billy Campbell shows up to save Jennifer Connelly and Timothy Dalton is helped to escape by some Nazi troops that somehow managed to get into Los Angeles along with a zeppelin. He tries to escape but Billy Campbell saves the day with the rocket pack.

As you could probably tell from my synopsis, the movie is seriously convoluted. It's hard to keep track of who is after Billy Campbell. The mob, Howard Hughes, the Nazis, Timothy Dalton, the FBI? They all look alike to me. Even a good cast, great effects for the time, and a ton of money behind it couldn't save it from being a mess. Still, the movie is entertaining at points. Could be worse. It could be Cutthroat Island.

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