Air America

August 10th, 1990


more trailers Air America

Still of Mel Gibson and Robert Downey Jr. in Air AmericaStill of Nancy Travis in Air AmericaStill of Roger Spottiswoode in Air AmericaStill of Mel Gibson and Robert Downey Jr. in Air AmericaStill of Mel Gibson, Robert Downey Jr., Marshall Bell, Ned Eisenberg, Art LaFleur and Tim Thomerson in Air AmericaStill of Robert Downey Jr. in Air America

A young pilot finds himself recruited into a covert and corrupt CIA airlift organization operating in Vietnam War Era Laos.

Release Year: 1990

Rating: 5.4/10 (12,604 voted)

Critic's Score: 33/100

Director: Roger Spottiswoode

Stars: Mel Gibson, Robert Downey Jr., Nancy Travis

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.

Writers: Christopher Robbins, John Eskow

Mel Gibson - Gene Ryack
Robert Downey Jr. - Billy Covington
Nancy Travis - Corinne Landreaux
Ken Jenkins - Major Donald Lemond
David Marshall Grant - Rob Diehl
Lane Smith - Senator Davenport
Art LaFleur - Jack Neely (as Art La Fleur)
Ned Eisenberg - Nick Pirelli
Marshall Bell - Q.V.
David Bowe - Saunders
Burt Kwouk - General Lu Soong
Tim Thomerson - Babo
Harvey Jason - Nino
Sinjai Plengpanit - May Ling (as Sinjai Hongthai)
Natta Nantatanti - Gene's Daughter

Taglines: Anything. Anywhere. Anytime.

Release Date: 10 August 1990

Filming Locations: Chaing Mai Airport, Thailand

Box Office Details

Budget: $35,000,000(estimated)

Opening Weekend: $8,064,480 (USA) (12 August 1990) (1902 Screens)

Gross: $31,053,601 (USA)

Technical Specs


Did You Know?

The "golden BB" that Jack Neely talks about is a slang term referring to a single rifle shot that is so well-placed it can bring down a plane or other aircraft. Such shot is demonstrated in the opening of the film.

Continuity: Ryack's hair during the conversation in the rain.

Billy Covington: Gene, you cant sell the plane! It's government property!
Gene Ryack: The U.S. Government doesn't exist in Laos and neither does this plane!
Billy Covington: Good point!

User Review

An action movie best played for laughs


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.