Flight of the Phoenix

Bomb Rating: 

It's pretty clear what kind of movie the audience will be getting when the plane piloted by Frank Towns (Dennis Quaid) and carrying a host of oil rig workers, crashes in the Mongolian desert. One of the red shirts goes flying out of the back of the plane and the director, John Moore, actually takes the time to show us his body smashing into the ground below. This is called special effects going too far.

Once the plane crashes, it appears that the two-man crew and their passengers are doomed to die. Nobody knows where they are, the radio doesn't work, and they're in the middle of nowhere. Walking is out of the question because it's too hot, but this doesn't seem to stop everyone from wearing too much clothing most of the time. Joining Towns on the plane is co-pilot A.J. (Tyrese) and various passengers, though the only ones we care about are Kelly (Miranda Otto), Ian (Hugh Laurie) and Elliott (Giovanni Ribisi), because those are the only actors who are the least bit familiar.

Elliott is the wild card of the bunch. We're supposed to believe that he just showed up at the drilling site one day because he was traveling around the world. Whatever. Frankly, it would have been just as interesting to watch one of the sand fleas begin barking out orders and causing tension as Elliott, who is obviously on some kind of weird power trip when he suggests that they can build a new plane out of the parts from the old one.

The only way a film like this works is if the people encounter every kind of problem imaginable, which they do, because if the whole movie was just them building the plane, it'd be the audience biting each other's heads off instead of the characters. So, one of the passengers tries to walk out of the desert, electrical and sand storms pop up at every inopportune moment, and a band of raiders shows up at just the wrong time.

There's no rising from the ashes for this film.

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