“Everything about this movie from the ground up is a mess.”
Nothing says late 80’s like Vietnam War lampooning, and Air America fits that bill perfectly. Air America is a movie about how fruitless and hopeless the war in Vietnam in the 60’s was. Original, right? The film focuses on a group of pilots operating in a secret war out of Laos. The company, Air America, deliver air drops across the country, but mainly just use their aircrafts to get into shenanigans like gun-running and drug smuggling. Those crazy characters!
Air America was released during a time when movies were either amazingly paced, or they felt like pulling teeth. Unfortunately Air America landed on the short side of the fence which translates to agony for both the film and anyone unlucky enough to watch it. First of all, the message in Air America is bland. Everyone agrees that the war in Vietnam was a pointless ruse, and it took a toll on the lives of many; congratulations for being the millionth piece of media to draw attention to that. The movie started off in an interesting direction, delving into the psyche of these deeply shaken pilots, but then quickly diverted back into old habits of films of the time and substituted any real look at the world for funny high jinx and quips. And this is really the root of the problem with Air America, the indecisiveness when it comes to the film’s message. This shift in tone really fucked with the pacing of the movie making it seem a lot longer than it was. It’s like squishing two movies together. One a semi-serious look at the war in Vietnam, the other a comedy that uses the war as a backdrop for hilarious antics. And the most egregious sin in my opinion is that Air America had the gall to think that we actually cared about the characters by the end of the movie. This piece of shit just wasted two hours of my time and now I have to sit in silence reading end cards about what became of the worthless sacks of tropes and quaffed hair that I had been longing to escape for the last chunk of my life.
And the film is also painfully dated. This point is best illustrated in the soundtrack of the film which is eclectic at best, psychotic at worst. First of all you have your range of Vietnam music. You know the ones: Fortunate Son, Gimme Shelter, etc. And these were fine, actually better than fine. It’s like finding a diamond in the rough. These pieces of good music were the only things I could enjoy when watching this movie. But then came the score. Nothing screams 1960’s Vietnam like electric guitar power ballads, right? Wrong. It’s like Air America couldn’t decide if it wanted to be a period piece or current comedy. Everything about this movie from the ground up is a mess.
Overall Air America is not a movie I would ever recommend. Sure it has a few funny scenes, but its not worth wading through two hours of boring characters and tired social commentary to get there.
I give Air America a D