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Flight of the Phoenix

Crash and Burn

For the countless who are planning on traveling to see family, friends, and loved ones this holiday season, for God's sake, DO NOT see Flight of the Phoenix! Whoever was responsible for green lighting the release of a film that contains one of the most terrifying plane crashes ever filmed right in the middle of the holiday travel season deserves to lose his job. While the plane crash scenes are as brilliant as they are terrifying, it's not enough to salvage a contrived, color by numbers survival film.

The premise of Flight of the Phoenix involves the closing down of a failed oil well operation in Mongolia. The corporate 'suits' are bomb dropped in to close shop and ship out the 'grunts' who man this operation. Naturally, the oil rig workers have been separated from their family and loved ones for months out in the middle of nowhere.

Upon taking off, countless pictures of babies, wives, and family members are exchanged along with wistful gazes out at the barren wasteland. Gee, will these poor souls be waylaid by disaster before they reach home? Director John Moore (Behind Enemy Lines) does an excellent job of telegraphing everything that transpires in this film. Even the name of the film gives everything away.

These poor souls are played by a cast that would seem to bring some hope that at least the film (if not the plane) can be salvaged. Dennis Quaid (The Day After Tomorrow) plays the gruff and insensitive pilot, Frank Towns. Dennis Quaid is naturally charismatic, but Towns is unfortunately a transcendent prick whose poor decision provides an unplanned side trip in the Gobi desert.

Tyrese Gibson (Baby Boy) plays a flat, generic sidekick to Frank Towns. Giovanni Ribisi (Sky Captain and The World of Tomorrow) plays an aeronautical 'Rain Man' whose only apparent gift is a knack for designing airplanes. Rounding out the primary cast is Miranda Otto (The Lord of The Rings: Return of The King) playing the requisite romantic interest for the cantankerous Frank Towns.

In a film such as Flight of the Phoenix where the final destination of the film is essentially already a given, an audience can only be engaged by the 'how'. Unfortunately, John Moore does a miserable job of disclosing exactly how right off the bat. Thus, we are left with a film that really never gets off the ground.

RATING: 1.5 stars out of 5