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Air America was the CIA's private airline operating in Laos during the Vietnam War, running anything and everything from soldiers to foodstuffs for local villagers. After losing his pilot's license, Billy Covington is recruited into it, and ends up in the middle of a bunch of lunatic pilots, gun-running by his friend Gene Ryack, and opium smuggling by his own superiors. Written by
Jeff Cross <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I actually thought this film improved with each viewing - some of the comic lines were lost first time around, with people speaking together, and rotor noise from the aircraft. Air America is probably a little too script-by-numbers, but only if you think about it too much - the key is to just enjoy the action and the comedy. I couldn't tell whether Mel Gibson's character was incredibly laid back, or if the actor just wasn't giving his all - but for me, the more interesting characters were the supporting cast anyway: David Marshall Grant as Rob Diehl and Art LaFleur as Jack Niely. There were a few too many pilots to pad all of the cast out, but the collective effort provided much of the humour. Robert Downey, Jnr. was perhaps the best out of the main cast, from cheesy 'eye in the sky' pilot ('the traffic is kinda sad, kinda bumsy-looking'), to Air America rookie, lost in a world of 'bar girls, squiggly writing on signs, and more bar girls'. Neither Gibson or Downey, Jnr. were particularly convincing as pilots, but luckily the planes (such as Pilatus Porters and Caribous) had enough character to pull off the airborne scenes. Downey, Jnr.'s character had a spectacular, if not slightly drawn out, crash-landing scene, slowly dismantling his aircraft as he slid along an old airstrip. The soundtrack was also a bonus, placing the film in time where the main characters were slightly anachronistic. Frank Sinatra's 'Come Fly With Me' saved the cliched ending with the same droll humour that was peppered throughout the rest of the movie. Overall, Air America is a film best watched with your brain switched to 'idle' - although the subject is serious, the film is best as pure entertainment.
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