Airborne (1998)

Airborne (1998)-* *

Directed by: Julian Grant

Starring: Steve Guttenberg, Kim Coates, Colm Feore, Torri Higginson, Philip Akin, and Sean Bean

"Pray It Doesn't Land..."

Bill McNeil (Guttenberg) is the head of a Special Ops team known as “Mach 1”. His compatriots are Sara Gemmel (Higginson) and Romeo Cortez (Akin). There’s an evil canister with an evil virus that a lot of evil people want to do evil things with. Head of said evildoers is the ominously-named Dave Toombs (Bean). When certain people end up dead, McNeil thinks it may be an inside job. So he goes on the run with Gemmel to get to the truth. Also Colm Feore and Kim Coates are on board.

Airborne is an unintentional (?) laugh riot. One of the main things that makes it funny is not just the presence of Steve Guttenberg, but his gruff, overly-serious performance. Obviously trying to shed his Police Academy “Mahoney” image, The Gute opts for an unshaven, laconic, cliche-action-hero style. Just check out the way he does a simple task like answer the phone. The phone rings. There is a pregnant pause as Gute takes the phone off the receiver. There is another pregnant pause before he speaks. Then, in a low, portentous, drawn-out tone, and speaking as if his throat is filled with gravel, he simply says, “Yeah”. While it may seem like nothing, this scene brought the house down with laughs. So that’s a microcosm of what to expect in Airborne, the movie that takes itself wildly seriously, even though it’s a shot-in-Canada, cliche-ridden turkey with bad sound, low production values and CGI airplanes.

In fact, while there is low-key, “smoldering” (harsher minds might say “emotionless”) acting by just about everyone involved, the movie could have used more Sean Bean. He is a bright spot in this dour production, and Kim Coates also tries to inject any energy he can, but it’s to no avail. You’d think the power team of Steve Guttenberg facing off against Sean Bean is the match-up the world has been waiting for - and it clearly is - but somehow Airborne doesn’t capitalize on this meeting.

And while Gute’s co-star Higginson resembles a DTV Sigourney Weaver, it’s hard for her to compete with his slow-motion, “cool” walking and other “cool” activities like putting on/taking off sunglasses. In fact, the importance he places on this action predates David Caruso and CSI Miami.

Plus you know it’s the 90’s because of the high-waisted jeans and unnecessary, Tarantino-esque cultural references. Also Sean Bean has an intimidating bad-guy mullet. But the Mach 1 team wears some impressive outfits: helmets that look like they are from the 80’s Laser Tag competitor Photon, and head-to-toe spandex. There’s one disturbing scene in particular where Guttenberg’s spandex pants don’t leave much to the imagination and...yecccchhh.

So while wags might say this is just another stupid, brainless ripoff of The Rock (1996) that is so riddled with cliches it can’t possibly add anything new to the genre, we say it’s the most dramatic retelling of the story of how that teacher invented his own cold medication yet put to film.

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty


Ed said...

Oh dear god. Steve Guttenberg: Action hero? I have to track this down at some point.

Ty said...

Definitely interested in your take on it. It is Guttenberg at his most goofy!

Jack Thursby said...

Guttenberg as an action hero! That's genius. I do remember seeing this in my local video shop years ago but never even thought to rent it.

If you get the chance, check out Crackerjack 2, which has Judge Reinhold (Billy from Beverley Hills Cop) as a hard boiled action hero.

Ty said...

Guttenberg should have made more action flicks, because it is hilarious to see him so gruff.

He also made another action movie called Overdrive, which was not as good.

Saw this at my local video store too in the 90s and always thought it looked too silly. Bought it last year dirt cheap on Amazon.

Always wanted to see Crackerjack 2 for the action Reinhold factor!

venom said...

Yeah it was pretty weird seeing Steve as a villain, but I thought he did OK, he was also pretty good in Overdrive. Reinhold's done some great films like Judge And Jury, Bank Robber, Off Beat, Baby On Board and Project: Human Weapon.

Ty said...

Would have loved to see Steve in more action films...he could have grown into a funny but decent action hero.

Same with Reinhold. Always liked Off Beat too.

Lee Nicholson said...

I remember reading an interview with Guttenberg in 'Empire Magazine' just before this movie was released, saying stuff like "I'm going to be the biggest 21st century action hero ever" (and being deadly serious, as well)

Ty said...

Haha, that is hilarious! I guess it didn't come true...if Airborne was the result.

But it would be funny to see him in another action movie in the future...The Expendables 3?

Direct to Video Connoisseur said...

I haven't seen this in forever! I'd forgotten it existed. Laugh riot sounds great, I absolutely have to revisit it.

Ty said...

Definitely looking forward to your take on this one. It is almost non-stop laughs. Guttenberg trying to act tough is just hilarious to see!

chris said...

I'm sold

Ty said...

I know you will enjoy the goofiness of Guttenberg, Chris!