Flight of the Phoenix (2004) / Action-Adventure
MPAA Rated: PG-13 for language and violence
Running Time: 140 min.
Cast: Dennis Quaid, Giovanni Ribisi, Miranda Otto, Tyrese Gibson, Tony Curran, Kirk Jones, Jacob Vargas, Hugh Laurie,
Director: John Moore
Screenplay: Scott Frank, Edward Burns
Review published December 23, 2004
A more modernized update of the Jimmy Stewart flick from 1965, Flight of the Phoenix basically covers the same territory, but with the exception of better special effects, it’s a step down in almost every other regard. The main premise is the same: a motley crew of cargo plane passengers crash in a storm, after leaving an oil drilling operation in Mongolia that is closing down. The plane is broken and stuck in the middle of the searing desert, leaving the crew with nowhere to go, a limited supply of food and drink, and a sneaking suspicion that no one will come looking for them. Desperate, they concede to a plan from one of the passengers claiming to be a plane expert that they can build a smaller plane from the wreckage of the larger one to get them out of there. Problem is, will they be able to make this plane in time before running out of food or water, or dying at the hands of murderous nomads or at their own hands.
Although the original film is a classic in its own way, although not generally regarded as great, this update by John Moore (Behind Enemy Lines) doesn’t give us any reason to revisit the same territory. I suppose the old Jimmy Stewart film would never have shown the passengers working on the plane while shaking their asses to Outkast’s “Hey Ya”, or can claim to have the hip quotient of a Tyrese (2 Fast 2 Furious) or Sticky Fingaz (Lift) as part of the crew, but does anyone think these facets are worthy enough elements to make a whole new movie out of? Apparently someone at Fox thinks so.
Perhaps viewers who like survival dramas (the ratings for ABC’s similarly premised “Lost” might indicate there are many people who do) will find moments of interest, but Flight of the Phoenix offers very little above standard plot elements and a very predictable turn of events. As a form of pure escapism, it might be worth a look on a rainy day with nothing else to watch, but for your hard-earned money and valuable time, there must be something better one can do than see this silly, superfluous remake. Unlike the film’s title, nothing rises from the ashes once this dud crashes.
©2000 Vince Leo