Eye For Film >> Movies >> Flight Of The Phoenix (2004) Film Review
Flight Of The Phoenix
Reviewed by: Josh Morrall
This remake of Robert Aldrich's 1965 film was marketed as a seriously intense action thriller, the trailer flashing images of Dennis Quaid's rippling muscles with Michael Bay-style edits of a plane crash. What came across as obvious in the trailer rings true in the film itself: this is not a thrilling experience.
The premise limits its potential for excitement. A plane crashes in the desert; the people on board rebuild it. Being a Hollywood production, the ending is signposted well in advance. Instead of tension, director John Moore uses a pounding soundtrack as well as enhanced diagetic sounds to almost scare the audience into feeling anxiety for the characters. Of course, we are all very much desensitised, so there are few genuine what-will-happen-next moments.
However, there is the occasional shock and the odd fleeting moment of interest as to who will be next for the chop. This element of the film, which the director seems intent on soliciting our sympathises by returning to long shots of the make shift graveyard at every pause in the pace, would have been improved if anyone cared less about the characters.
Quaid plays anti-hero Frank Towns, who shares a bad attitude towards oil diggers with his co-pilot A.J. (Tyrese Gibson). Frank and A.J. resent being dragged out into the desert to take the failed workmen (and women) back home. Their negativity towards good spirited Kelly (Miranda Otto) make you feel sorry for her, yet, the camera remains on Quaid for the majority of the film.
Character development is poor. Most noticeable is the suspicious looking Elliott (well played by Giovanni Ribisi), who lurks amongst the wreckage of the plane, alienated from the others, holding back dark secrets. This potential villain meanders towards a disappointing, anti-climatic resolution.
Flight Of The Phoenix has very little going for it. There is an array of beautiful desert shots, particularly the aerial variety, which turn swiftly sour as Moore overuses them in the way that he indulges the small amount of symbolism he can suck from this cold, hard, lifeless film.
There is room for improvement. It does everything that Alive! did not, attempting to muster tension in predictable situations and sympathy for characters we struggle to like.
As an action thriller, it crashes and burns, leaving only a thin layer of drama to keep the audience occupied. Ultimately, a pointless remake of a far superior original.Reviewed on: 10 Mar 2005