Flight of the Phoenix (12A)
Time Out saysJohn Moore’s streamlined remake of Robert Aldrich’s 1965 action-adventure trims 30 minutes from the running time, but the shortest route is seldom the most interesting. When their cargo plane crash-lands in the Gobi desert, the 11 survivors face a stark choice. Caught between flyboy Dennis Quaid’s jaded fatalism and nerdy airplane designer Giovanni Ribisi’s quirky optimism, they can either wait for help to arrive or use their energies and dwindling supplies to build a new plane from the wreckage of the old one.
If scriptwriters Scott Frank and Ed Burns had explored these tense group dynamics more fully, the grounded desert scenes might have generated some suspense and psychological drama. Instead, the sketchy characters and flat dialogue just fill the space between the bracketing set-pieces: the brilliantly staged opening crash and the nail-biting attempted take-off. Even given more to do, Quaid is no James Stewart, and the rest of the group barely register. So only the blond-haired, bespectacled Ribisi matches the intensity of his predecessor, Hardy Kruger.