A piece of blandly enthusiastic, B-movie pulp — The Rocketeer is like Raiders of the Lost Ark without the hip spin. Cliff Secord (Bill Campbell), the ’30s air-racing pilot who straps on a fire-powered jet pack invented by Howard Hughes to become the phantom Rocketeer, is meant to be an appealingly low-tech superhero. As a character, though, he’s weightless: There isn’t a single line that might help Campbell establish him as funny, charming, debonair…hell, anything. The special effects are amusing (if not particularly magical), and Timothy Dalton, playing an Errol Flynn-like movie star who is actually a Nazi spy, shows far more looseness as a decadent villain than he’s ever had as James Bond. Yet the picture is so innocuous, so slackly ”innocent” and tame, that it might have been inspired by one of President Reagan’s wistful comments about the kind of movies they just don’t make anymore. C

The Rocketeer
  • Movie
  • 108 minutes