Thursday, April 6, 2017

In short: Altitude (2017)

FBI hostage negotiator Gretchen (Denise Richards) has just been demoted to a desk job in Washington for preventing a bloodbath. Her flight to Washington isn’t going too great, either: her nice/slimy seat neighbour Terry (Kirk Barker) has stolen rather a lot of money from his backstabbing partners, said partners being his ex Sadie (Greer Grammar) and one Sharpe (Dolph Lundgren). And wouldn’t you believe it, these two are not only on the plane too, but have brought a couple of feckless henchmen and a pretty insane plan that’ll turn out to include mass murder.

I’d suggest retitling – if only in one’s head – to “Dolph on a Plane”, with Dolph Lundgren as (motherfucking) Dolph (on this motherfucking plane) and Denise Richards as Samuel L. Jackson to get into the right spirit for Alex Merkin’s very silly, pretty cheap, sometimes funny and generally entertaining action movie. For if you go into this one wanting to take it straightforwardly serious, you’ll not come out of it a happy person.

Despite quite a few dead bodies the film’s tone is light but not parodic or exactly comedic. It’s just very much in tune with its own silliness, unwilling to apologize for it, while on the other hand perfectly willing to wallow in it. So there’s a great amount of nonsense about the ways planes, hostage negotiation, parachutes, the FBI, guns, and gravity work, because how could you ever set an action film on a plane otherwise? As someone not going into cheap action movies hoping for realism (or even plain veracity), I’m perfectly fine with it. And once you’re willing to accept Denise Richards as FBI hostage negotiator and budding action heroine you’re all set to actually enjoy this thing.

Richards obviously isn’t exactly the ideal choice for the whole action business, but she’s certainly game for any stupid crap the script needs her to say or do, her stunt double’s game for the action, and while she still hasn’t been kissed by the Great Goddess of Thespians, she does deliver her lines convincing enough, as far as that goes with these particular lines. Which isn’t something I’d say about all action movie leads. Dolph, as is his wont these days, spends most of the film in the same (cockpit) set but Merkin did obviously have him for enough shooting days to actually have him interact with most of the main cast and place him inside the film’s actual plot, which isn’t a given with the big guy’s movies these says. And if you ever wanted to watch Dolph hum the “Ride of the Valkyries” while piloting an aircraft, this is the film for you. He seems to have fun with it, at least.

The rest of the cast is solid, too, while the special effects are cheap in a likeable manner. Merkin’s direction does lack a bit of clarity during some of the action, but he never gets the film bogged down in boring nonsense like characterisation or other filler, keeping things moving and going from one cheap-o nonsense set piece to the next. So Altitude’s a fun little piece of direct-to-video fodder.

No comments: