Probably the best movie O.J. Simpson was ever in.Peter Hyams' cynical, paranoid thriller looked particularly eerie in the wake of the Columbia disaster. Three astronauts (James Brolin, Sam Waterston, and O.J.) are set to embark on the first manned flight to Mars. At the last minute they're pulled aside and Hal Holbrook explains that the life-support systems were faulty, but that NASA can't afford to blow its credibility by cancelling the flight. So the astronauts are forced to go along with a faked Mars-walk.
Then the unforeseen happens when the unmanned Capricorn One explodes on re-entry. The astronauts realize that in the eyes of the world, they're dead, and NASA means to make that part true. So the men escape to the desert and split off into separate directions. Elliott Gould is the disreputable reporter who's on to the cover-up. The excellent cast also includes Brenda Vaccaro as Brolin's "widow," Karen Black as Gould's reporter acquaintance and would-be lover, James Karen as the vice-president, David Huddleston (the big Lebowski himself) as a congressman, and Telly "Keep your goddamn head down" Savalas in a great funny bit as a cropduster pilot.
There's some terrific aerial stuff too ó the two helicopters in pursuit of the astronauts have an amusing way of turning to face each other, as if conferring, when they're on the trail of their quarry. The climactic chopper/cropduster chase is pretty wild as well ó remember these were the days before CGI, when some psychos actually had to get in those planes and swoop all over the desert.Solid, tightly written entertainment. I remember catching Sam Waterston's final joke scene on TV as a kid.