The American Way Review

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Maverick air-bomber (Hopper) aims to destroy USA's bravado by playing havock with America's airwaves: by pumping porn to the masses he intends to prevent the mentality that lead to the Vietnam war. However, his agenda clashes with the right-wing presidential candidate, Mrs Willa Westinghouse, and he soon finds himself at the mercy of the US airforce.


Dennis Hopper specialises in warped, crazed, sinister outsiders - most notably his Frank Booth, resident, small-town maniac in Blue Velvet - and here he brings us another one. Hopper is captain of B29 bomber full of weirdo, drugged-out Vietnam vets who, ever since the war ended, have been cruising the skies using their plane's phenomenal technology (courtesy of mad Prof. Michael J. Pollard) to play havoc with America's airwaves. The bomber relays S&M TV, beaming sex and violence to the masses. Its mission - to seek and destroy any resurgence of the spirit that led to Vietnam.

They found it writ large in the figure of Mrs Willa Westinghouse (an amalgam of Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan and Geraldine Ferraro) whose desire to become the first woman in White House rides on the 'bomb the shit out of Central America' ticket. The stage is thus set for a shoot out between the maverick bomber and the entire might of US air force.

It's a suitably bizarre story line for a suitably bizarre comedy which comes across like Blade Runner meets M.A.S.H with a touch of MTV thrown in for good measure. Before making The American Way, British director Maurice Philips earned a healthy crust filming pop promos, and his skill is stunningly demonstrated via the plane's floor-to-ceiling TV monitors, relaying a constant psychobabble of 'Nam news clips, Hendrix and The Kinks, hard porn and suitably off-the-wall broadcasts from El Capitaine himself.

The American Way is very nearly a fine movie. Its beginning, as the camera pans through the bomber's psychedelic Aladdin's Cave interior, makes the ship in Alien appear positively pristine and introduces a set of oddball characters besides whom even the lads in One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest would seem sane. This whets the appetite for a satisfying, off-the-wall satire in the Repo Man style. Unfortunately it fails to deliver. Good Morning Vietnam its not - the script plays Russian roulette with its jokes and four out of five fail to hit, while the 'dirt' the crew deliver on Westinghouse in the finale is so blatantly obvious you wonder why they need to bother.

A promising amalgamation of ideas fails to deliver due to the flat jokes and obvious outcome.