Thursday, February 9, 2017

Airboss III: The Payback (2000)

When we last left the Airboss (I’m assuming Frank White is the Airboss), he had gone into space for some reason, and then fought the head of the CIA, who had planned to kill everyone in New York because he didn’t feel anything anymore. When Frank was done with that, he’d gone home with his gay companion, Bone.

When Airboss III: The Payback opens, two gunmen sneak aboard a Russian ship and interrupt an innocent game of strip poker, then steal some weapons-grade plutonium (what other grades are there?). The military and the FBI have to work together to get the plutonium back, even though, well, it wasn’t theirs to begin with. Frank is back to flying training missions. I guess he lost his job at NASA. That means more dull footage of planes and some of the worst dialogue ever written by anyone anywhere. And it looks like Frank has a new male companion, Webb Buckley. And Webb asks aloud what we’re all wondering, “Whatever happened to Bone Conn?

Well, this isn’t the kind of film to let us ponder anything too long. The very next shot shows Bone leading his own little party in Colombia. But Webb interrupts Bone’s fun to see if he’ll come join his mission. Wow, Webb got there quickly! Involving his lover’s ex seems risky, but maybe Webb is planning on a threesome. Though Bone starts fantasizing about a girl. These heterosexual fantasies don’t last long, of course, and in fact he kills off the girl in his little fantasy. When Bone and Webb meet an actual woman, they express befuddlement. “I’m confused,” Bone says. “I wasn’t aware that Agent Daniels was a woman.” Even after seeing she is in fact a woman, he remains confused and calls her “Daniel” at one point. Webb watches him affectionately as he makes an ass of himself until Mr. Beaver smooths things over. (I’m not sure the character’s actual name, and I didn’t really hear anything he said, because I was just staring at his teeth the whole time he was speaking.) Then the four of them begin training together, but it’s not done to a 1980s rock song, so it seems weird. And why isn’t Frank involved? Isn’t he the star of this series? Isn’t he the Airboss?

The guy with the plutonium holds an online auction to sell it. Weird, he can afford a blue screen backdrop but not someone to man the camera. That must have been an awkward moment when he came online, having to step into frame. Well, now he has fifty million dollars. Maybe he can hire someone before his next auction. By the way, there’s a nice moment when someone bids fifty-five million, and the auctioneer cautions him, saying he knows that his organization doesn’t have that kind of money. That’s one of the film’s best little moments.

The captain of a submarine gets inspiration from Star Trek. And more than a third of the way into the film, the writers remember Frank White and give him a phone call with a mission. Well, not really a mission. He is to just sit there in a room, following the other characters’ mission. He doesn’t offer advice, or even speak. What kind of Airboss is he?

Anyway, halfway through the movie, they catch the guy with the plutonium, so immediately the characters hear of some other, completely unrelated act of terrorism, some other group, blah blah blah. Yes, a totally different mission halfway through the film. Is Frank White a part of this mission? Nope. Lazy Airboss. This time he’s not even listening in. Where is he? And Webb wears Frank’s “Bad Dog” helmet. Must be a lovers’ thing, wearing each other’s clothes. (Though in another shot, the helmet doesn’t say “Bad Dog.” Hmm.)

Well, Bone doesn’t make it. So there is a montage of shots of him, a tribute of sorts to a gay character that we hardly knew, ending with a shot of a cemetery. Ah, that’s how we’ll always remember him. And somehow there is still a half hour left in the film, so the remaining characters start drinking. Me too.

Soon the three are given another mission, and this time it is decided to bring in Frank White, who in the last twenty minutes has taken up ornithology and gotten a better haircut. But upon hearing of his old lover’s death, Frank gets angry and accepts the mission. So…. I guess the guy with the plutonium is…. What? Safely locked away somewhere? And the Russians who owned the plutonium aren’t asking for it back? Who knows? This movie is a mess, but it might actually be better than the second one. It’s certainly better than the first one. Ah, what will Airboss IV have in store for us?

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