Filled with eye-popping stunts and a lighthearted, comedic tone, The Pursuit of D.B. Cooper is a pretty fun caper that could easily have gone into harder edged territory with its themes of Vietnam vet (Green Beret) soldiers competing against each other in a grab and dash chase for cash. I enjoyed it.
A daring heist from an airliner jet turns into a nonstop pursuit from the insurance company, who sends the only man capable of catching the thief.
A handsome and charming ex-soldier named J.R. Mead (Treat Williams) plans out the ultimate heist: He will steal 200K in cash from a commercial airliner mid-flight and parachute out of it, landing somewhere in a national park in the middle of deer hunting season. It works. He lands, and already has his escape route ready to go with a hidden jeep in the woods, complete with hunting gear, and even with tons of cops and park rangers on the hunt for him, he makes a clean getaway. The insurance company for the money scrambles to find out who did the heist: J.R. used the name ‘D.B. Cooper,’ and only one stewardess can identify him, and due to a tiny detail, the insurance company’s man – Bill Gruen (Robert Duvall) – figures out who Cooper really is: One of his subordinate soldiers in Vietnam. Gruen was his commanding officer, which gives Gruen a huge leg up in his search, and he heads straight for Mead’s ranch, where his wife (played by the beautiful Kathryn Harrold) is working as a river guide for tourists. Sure enough, Guen finds Mead there, instigating a nonstop chase between the insurance man and the thief and his wife, who take the cash on the run. In the mix is a scuzzy ex-soldier (played by Paul Gleason) known to both Gruen and Mead, and what follows is quite an adventure.
Filled with eye-popping stunts and a lighthearted, comedic tone, The Pursuit of D.B. Cooper is a pretty fun caper that could easily have gone into harder edged territory with its themes of Vietnam vet (Green Beret) soldiers competing against each other in a grab and dash chase for cash. I enjoyed it, and director Roger Spottiswoode’s breezy direction (Buzz Kulik also did uncredited work on it) helps the movie maintain a sense of fun and adventure. Some of the aerial stunts are intense and impressive, and the movie got a few good chuckles out of me, so that’s a win. James Horner did the score, and future heavyweights Joel Silver and Ron Shelton served as creative consultants.
Kino Lorber’s new Blu-ray release of The Pursuit of D.B. Cooper looks and sounds nice in a high definition transfer, and comes with an audio commentary by the screenwriter, plus TV spots and the theatrical trailer.