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A 1990 movie starring Tommy Lee Jones and Nicolas Cage as United States Army Air Cavalry helicopter pilots. The U.S. Army and the DEA are assisting government officials in Central America in fighting the increasingly militant drug cartels, but are unexpectedly outgunned by a mercenary pilot Eric Stoller, and his Scorpion attack helicopter. Captain Jake Preston (Cage), one of the few survivors of an aerial ambush in the beginning of the movie, must train hard to prepare for a new mission to hunt down and eliminate Eric Stoller.
This film contains examples of the following tropes:
- Ace Pilot: Several, although when the movie begins, Eric Stoller is the only one to get any air-to-air kills.
- Anti-Air: A Stinger missile launcher figures in the film's climax.
- Badass Boast: Preston to Chief Warrant Officer Little before their head-to-head match at the end of his training.
Just so you know, I will be kicking your ass today!
- Beard of Evil: Stoller.
- The Cartel: The bad guys in the film are a very militant drug cartel, complete with a pair of fighter jets and a mercenary pilot in an attack chopper.
- Chewing the Scenery: Preston during the flight simulator sequence, which he appears to be incapable of taking seriously.
ALL GONE, BYE BYE!!!!
- Damsel in Distress: Guthrie very briefly during the film's climax; justified in that she is piloting an unarmed scout chopper and is discovered by Stoller while reconning the enemy's base. She leads him to Jake, who forces Stoller to disengage.
- Death Glare: Stoller in his file photo. Commented on by Little.
Charming, isn't he?
- Description Porn: Tommy Lee Jones delivers pretty much any time his character says anything having to do with his job, and most especially while discussing the AH-64 Apache and while giving Guthrie a last-minute briefing on how to assemble and utilize the FIM-92 Stinger Surface To Air Missile launcher.
- Distracted by the Sexy: Preston gets called out for this during a mission briefing:
Preston, get your head out of your pants!
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: Most of the interactions between Preston and Billy Lee Guthrie are pretty much about sex, especially when they are actually discussing helicopter tactics.
- Dragon-in-Chief: Eric Stoller is a mercenary helicopter pilot hired by the Cartels to protect their interests. He does not run the Cartels, and it is never indicated throughout the film that he is anything other than a Dangerously Genre Savvy mercenary. Just the same, given that the primary mission of the heroes is to get rid of him so the DEA can go after the Big Bads, he is given the primary focus as the bad guy, and in fact is the only bad guy to appear in the film, aside from some wide-angle shots from a scout chopper's camera, and a pair of fighter jets.
- Drives Like Crazy: Billie Guthrie driving Jake's Corvette. Jake driving a jeep with panties and a periscope on his head.
- A Father to His Men: Brad Little, who not only trains the men who will go on the mission, but insists on personally leading them as well, despite protests from the higher-ups that his expertise makes him more valuable as an instructor than as a front line troop.
- Fighter Launching Sequence: The Americans' camp is hit by a surprise attack during the film's climax, leading to the pilots scrambling to get into the air.
- Foreshadowing: Little mentions to Preston that they could crash an Apache at 20 G's and survive, but he is not going to prove it to him. Little is shot down during the final battle, and Guthrie ends up coming to his aid. Little survives, but he is pretty banged up and his gunner is killed.
- Gatling Good: The Cobra helicopter Preston flies at the start of the film has two Miniguns mounted in the nose. They don't do him much good, however.
- Gunship Rescue: Jake comes to the rescue when Billie is being chased by Stoller, warding him off by spraying 30mm cannon rounds at him. Stoller escapes before Jake can kill him, at least temporarily.
- Handicapped Badass: Jake Preston is discovered to suffer from a severe case of Eye Dominance, which makes it very difficult for him to use the Apache's monocle-based targeting system. Little helps him overcome this by strapping a pair of panties onto Jake's head.
- It's Personal
That was for Dobbs.
- Large Ham: Both of the main characters, but especially Nick Cage (unsurprisingly) as Jake Preston.
- Meaningful Echo: Jake and Billie arguing over who will drive. Billie wins the argument every time.
- Old Soldier: Little, an experienced helicopter pilot tasked with training younger pilots in helicopter combat tactics. While he is far more experienced than the younger pilots, he is also finding his age to be catching up with him.
- One scene has him out for an early morning jog on the flightline, when another pilot jogs past him with a "Morning, Sir!" Followed soon after by another. And another. And one last soldier who passes him while jogging backwards.
- Post Mortem One Liner: Played With, after Preston crashes in the flight simulator.
Pretend that we just notified your Next of Kin.
- Pre-Mortem One-Liner: Guthrie, before shooting down a Cartel fighter jet with a Stinger missile.
Snort this, Sucker!
- Private Military Contractor: Stoller is stated to be a mercenary; we never get any indication if he has any stake at all in the drug wars other than money.
- A briefing between the higher-ups clearly states that Stoller "sells his expertise to the highest bidder", and in Little's briefing to Preston's squadron, he says "He (Stoller) kills people for money, and now someone has paid him to kill you."
- Public Domain Soundtrack: The soundtrack includes snippets of "Mars" by Gustav Holst during the final battle.
- Recycled in Space: It's Top Gun IN ARMY HELICOPTERS! One of the primary complaints about the film, in fact.
- The Squadette: Guthrie.
- This Is for Emphasis, Bitch: Jake snarls the line rather than shouting it. Which would make sense, given that Stoller wouldn't be able to hear him anyways.