Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Airborne (1998)

A friend of mine recently gave me a DVD set titled Terror In The Air, a collection of nine action movies all involving airplanes. The first movie of the collection, Crash Landing, isn’t all that good. The second, Airborne, is much worse. You know you’re in for a bad movie when it begins with a long title card which is also read aloud to you (because, the producers must feel, the movie’s audience might be too stupid to be able to read): “February 1990. The Gulf War erupts and…” And I’ve stopped paying attention. Something about one of those elite forces the government is always creating in movies. “Shrouded in total secrecy, they infiltrate hot spots, execute their mission and disappear. Until the next time.”

I’m worried that it must be the next time.

Sean Bean and some guys break into a laboratory and steal some glowing beads, an experiment in using a virus as a biological weapon. So it’s up to the elite force led by action movie hero Steve Guttenberg (who seems to be imitating Bruce Willis), to recapture the glowing beads before they can be used against a population. The virus is currently on a plane, so the elite force is going to do one of those popular mid-air entries. “All right, we’ve all got our dance cards,” action movie hero Steve Guttenberg says. And then the elite team is identified with title cards while the group’s theme song plays. I’m beginning to suspect this is a comedy. But there are lots of dramatic pauses before they start their mission, which seem to indicate these characters wish to be taken seriously.

Everything goes well on their mission, but they take the dangerous cylinder out of its protective case for some reason, and then toss it around. This is supposed to build suspense, I suppose, but it just comes across as seriously stupid. And there’s some fighting on the plane, and one of the bad guys calls action movie hero Steve Guttenberg by name. By his character’s name, that is: Bill McNeil. The elite force escapes, but the movie is far from over. How did that villain know his name, action movie hero Steve Guttenberg wonders. And we are supposed to wonder that too, but I’m not all that concerned.

Elite team supervisor Ron Simpson (Colm Feore, who must have been wondering what the hell he was doing in this movie) and action movie hero Steve Guttenberg go for a drive. Ron goes to put on some Abba or Diana Ross, but puts in the wrong CD, and a man starts talking to him through the speakers, and somehow that makes the car doors lock. Also, the brakes and steering wheel stop functioning. Uh-oh! Not that we’re overly concerned about these characters, but now it’s beyond any doubt that this is a bad movie. And I wonder, What would the bad guys have done had Ron decided not to put on this CD? I mean, sometimes you just want to drive in silence, and not listen to a man’s voice threaten you on your stereo. And sometimes you don’t even want to listen to Abba or Diana Ross. Well, of course Ron and action movie hero Steve Guttenberg escape. But I’m also wondering, How would killing these two help the bad guys get the virus back? It’s not like the elite force still has it. Their mission is over. It’s been over for a while.

Well, one of the other members of the elite force is murdered, and a murder attempt is made on the female member, Sara. So Ron, Sara and action movie hero Steve Guttenberg no longer trust anyone, including their bosses. So they decide to steal the virus themselves in order to find out who the buyer is. That seems somewhat nutty and dangerous, but the movie has to go on. It’s about this time that I recall that the DVD box set is called Terror In The Air. The entire plane sequence was over in the first twenty minutes. Hmm. Anyway, the team breaks in to the place where the virus is stored without any trouble whatsoever. But when they get the container, Sean Bean is there like Belloq in Raiders to take it from them. There is a cool liquid nitrogen death, but the whole thing is so silly. Where are the guards? So now the bad guys have the virus again. And I learn that secret operations agents take long bubble baths.

Action movie hero Steve Guttenberg walks in slow motion in a couple of scenes. That builds suspense, even when he and Sara are just walking down a hotel hallway. What will happen? And then, with eighteen minutes left in the movie, we have another airplane sequence. Well, an airport sequence, anyway. The plane never gets off the ground (so much for Terror In The Air). Why does no one carry that virus in a protective case? The movie’s ending provides a few answers to certain questions, but no answer to that question.

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