Flight Of The Phoenix

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Movie Review by Neils Hesse

Starring: Dennis Quaid, Giovanni Ribisi, Tyrese Gibson, Miranda Otto, Tony Curran
Director: John Moore

So you and a group of about fifteen people crash land in the Gobi Desert with no hope of rescue for at least two weeks, by that time your food and water would have run out thus you would all probably be dead. Well allow me to elaborate. Yes, James Stewart and Richard Attenborough did this way back in THE FLIGHT OF THE PHOENIX in1965 and indeed that was a great movie and yes there are quite a few dodgy remakes out there but I am very happy to say that this isn’t one of them.

Frank Towns (Dennis Quaid) and his second in command AJ (Tyrese Gibson) run an air charter service for oilfield personnel operating in Mongolia. They get a routine job to transport a team of oil workers and their tools from a defunct oilrig somewhere in the Gobi Desert. Their journey quickly goes disastrously wrong and in an amazingly staged CGI fuelled sandstorm sequence their plane crashes into the desert.

Towns and his passengers realise that due to their abrupt trip and desolate location nobody will be coming to look for them anytime soon. As they start to run out of food and water an unlisted passenger called Elliott (Giovanni Ribisi) suggests they should build another plane using the part of the plane that isn’t damaged with the aid of the tools that they have on board. Initially his suggestion is met with mockery and laughter but as their situation gets more desperate they reluctantly give in to his idea. As if their own struggle for survival wasn’t enough to deal with, Towns and Elliott are soon bitterly at loggerheads with each other. Eventually it comes down to a showdown between the two of them that ultimately seals their fate.

John Moore the director of the action/adventure thriller BEHIND ENEMY LINES with Gene Hackman and Owen Wilson is back in the director’s seat for this thrilling remake. Filmed on location in the Namibian Desert the central themes are still survival and the bitter power struggle between the two main characters. Despite the spectacular crash sequence the film is refreshingly CGI free making the turmoil of the characters all the more compelling. No time is wasted as the pace is kept up right from the start and from that point of view it is much faster paced than the original.

Dennis Quaid is perfect in his role as a stubborn, old fashioned pilot. His physical build, gruff charm and tenacious demeanour suit the character of Frank Towns, who is supposed to be one tough cookie. Tyrese Gibson plays sidekick to Quaid’s character easily oozing sarcasm and charm, but this time around unlike the original his character is not an alcoholic. Giovanni Ribisi stands out as the weirdly tenacious and unrelenting Elliott. One particularly darkly comic scene has the group of survivors arguing about what they are going to do with a bandit they have captured and whilst they argue Elliott simply picks up a gun and blows his brains out. A riveting performance from Mr. Ribisi.

This is an all out action adventure movie and from that point of view it definitely delivers.

4 out of 6 stars