Former Olympic gymnast-turned-daredevil skydiver Ditch Brodie (Sheen), owner of a jump school, is approached by a beautiful but nervous woman named Chris Morrow (Kinski), whom insists on performing a static jump from cruising altitude immediately. Playing along due to her flirtatious attitude, Ditch agrees to take her despite claims that she has never skydived before. During the flight over, a confusing incident ends with Chris leaping out on her own, and despite Ditch's best attempts, he's unable to save her before she hits the ground at terminal velocity. An investigation ensues, and the school is closed down indefinitely.
Ditch feels guilty by her death, but nonetheless confused by the circumstances surrounding it, so when he finds evidence contradicting Chris' claims, and he's attacked by the mysterious Kerr (McDonald), he finds himself not only looking to clear his name, but also to survive, while finding allies and enemies in the least-expected places.
This film provides examples of:
- Clear My Name: Ditch has to clear his name after being accused of manslaughter for Chris' death in confusing circumstances. Chris ends up helping him after revealing that she had faked her death.
- Cool Car: Kerr's red Cadillac Allante with Northstar engine and digital gauges. Ditch's 1970 Dodge Challenger also fits.
- Cool Gun: One of the very first movies to feature a H&K USP pistol.
- Disney Villain Death: On the falling car, Ditch manages to fight off Kerr, which results in this for him.
- Extreme Sport Excuse Plot: One of Ditch's clients gets killed in a skydive accident on his watch and he has to clear his name. Things become a lot weirder really quick, and stunts that involve falling from great heights with a parachute happen repeatedly.
- Faking the Dead: After seemingly dying in a fall, it's later revealed that Chris was alive and well, havng faked her death to throw off the men behind her.
- Gratuitous Russian: Given that the antagonists are Russian, this happens a lot. However, when the antagonists are trying to speak Russian, due to none of them actually being Russian, the results are pretty unimpressive.
- Just Plane Wrong: The Boeing 747 loaded with gold is supposed to be owned by the East German airline Interflug, which was defunct by 1994 and never had any 747.
- Helicopter Blender: Ditch ends up making Pinkwater get sucked onto a wind generator by pulling his back-up chute. We don't get to see the blending, but the next scene shows one of the blades with blood on it, implying it killed him. The blade has no damage whatsoever, despite the rather muscular human that slammed on it.
- It's Raining Men: Well, it is a movie about skydiving, so lots of people falling from the sky, at great height, then landing safely are seen.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: Ben Pinkwater first appears as harmless and clumsy district attorney. He is violent and dangerous former KGB operative
- The Precious, Precious Car: In the climax, Kerr's car gets driven out of a plane. And Kerr leaps out after it. It does not go well for him.
- Renegade Russian: It's revealed by Chris that she and her pursuers are former KGB operatives left unemployed due to the collapse of the Soviet Union, and that the men have fallen in with the Russian mob, hijacked a massive shipment of gold bullion intended for the Moscow reserve, and are intending to use it to finance a coup d'état against the democratic Russian government.
- Terminology Title: The films takes its title from the name given to the maximum speed a falling object can attain, something that certainly comes a lot in skydiving.
- What the Hell, Hero?: A rare mutual example Chris calls out Ditch for his lack of caring with regards to the potential costs to the entire world should they fail. Ditch responds by pointing out that he has been used, deceived and dragged into a situation a civilian like him shouldnt have been in.