Director: John Moore
Starring: Dennis Quaid, Giovanni Ribisi, Tyrese,
Miranda Otto, Hugh Laurie
RunTime: 1 hr 53 mins
Released By: 20th Century Fox
Released Date: 3 Feb 2005
(Courtesy from 20th Century Fox):
After a plane crashes in the middle of the desert and its
survivors realize there is no hope of outside rescue, the
passengers have to fight against heat, sand, nomads and each
other and their own sanity while they attempt to re-build
a plane in the hopes of flying back to civilization.
Based on the screenplay of the 1965 original starring Jimmy
Stewart, Flight of the Phoenix is an old-school B-movie adventure
made with the crackerjack style of an MTV video. Although
it is an overwrought, over-produced epic drowning in too-much
style, Scott Frank (Dead Again) and Edward Burns (The Brothers
McMullen) have done such a thoroughly decent job of scripting
this update. With Moore casting his canaille group of characters
so amazingly well, its immanently watchable. Sure, it’s
a bit of a mess, but it’s an entertaining mess.
Here's the story: a group of outcasts, drilling for oil in
the Mongolian desert. Their employer decides that the costs
outweigh the benefits, and they decide to shut down the site.
None of the employees know this until a plane arrives carrying
disgruntled pilot Frank Towns (Dennis Quaid) and his co-pilot,
AJ (Tyrese Gibson). The team leader (Miranda Otto) immediately
storms into the office of Ian (Hugh Laurie), the site accountant,
to protest. She loses, and the crew dismantles their equipment
and boards the plane, tagging along too, Elliott (Giovanni
Ribisi), the Mysterious Stranger. And as the rest of the plot
goes: sandstorm, plane crash, attempts at survival, decision
to rebuild plane, plane flies. End of story. Yes it flies!
They wouldn’t call the movie “Flight of the Phoenix”
for nothing right?
No big surprise for the dozens of flaws but Flight of the
Phoenix is quite entertaining for a bad movie. Part of the
fun is figuring out what's going to go wrong next. Thanks
to Burns, you'll probably be wrong at least a couple of times.
You'll also probably a) recoil and/or b) jump in your seat
at least a few times. Sure, there are plenty of clichés
and the end result is obvious. Despite the stylized flick,
my opinion is it needs to show a little restraint and let
the action come naturally, not force-feed it into our faces
every few minutes under the wrong impression that we might
be getting bored.
Performances from the cast were rather bland but sprinkled
with occasional dramatic occurrence just to spice the plot
up. There wasn’t anything we haven’t seen before
but reasonably passable without any remembrance. Setting apart
from the rest is the lone stranger played by no other than
Giovanni Ribisi, who is hilarious (and deadly serious, which
is the only way to play the part) as Elliott, with a high,
nasal voice that stays almost unbearable to the point of loving
to hate him for his character. Elliott is a strange little
man, and Ribisi doesn't reveal any of his secrets, though
one gets the sense that the actor knows them all. On the other
hand, it feels a bit ridiculous to even mention things like
characters' inner lives, because we're talking about an action-adventure
film. This isn't some highbrow adaptation of an acclaimed
Flight of the Phoenix isn't intentionally campy, nor is it
a contemporary B-movie. It's an assortment of mostly A-list
characters in a predictable, fast-paced action-adventure movie.
Sure, the premise is flawed and the situation is inherently
impossible. But given those factors, Burns came up with a
decent script, and Ribisi alone makes the thing worth watching.
If you want two hours of pure escapism - board this Flight.
by Lokman B.S