The Unfriendly Skies: 'Hijacked'

A federal agent is invited on board the luxury airliner of a corporate titan. As the plane is overtaken by terrorists the audience becomes the true hostages.


Director: Brandon Nutt
Cast: Randy Couture, Craig Fairbrass, Vinny Jones, Tiffany DuPont, Dominick Purcell
Distributer: Anchor Bay
Rated: R
Year: 2012
Release date: 2012-07-31

Former UFC champion Randy Couture continues his effort to segue from mixed-martial arts fighting into acting, following a well-worn path trod by numerous athletes over the decades. High-profile appearances in both “Expendables” films has led to this starring attempt, but even in a direct-to-rental title he faces a tough challenge. While joining a huge cast of action-stars means his limitations are easily overshadowed and diluted by expensive special-effects, here Couture suffers from both the task of having to carry most of the picture himself and from his lack of talent becoming stark due to the micro-budget production.

That discount description is not exaggeration. An early gunfight scene shows numerous victims reeling back as they absorb gun fire and the blood spray from the bullet impact is actually animated. You realize the challenge ahead of yourself as a viewer once you understand the production could not afford squibs for these scenes. This means the performers have to provide most of the reason for people to watch, but Couture and company play things in such a serene fashion that after a while you begin feeling like the pace should pick up soon; and by then you realize that the titular hijacking has already taken place. Randy in particular brings so little energy to his performance that you would be understood for thinking he did a full day of fight training before arriving fatigued to the set.

Right from the start the challenge is put up for us to keep watching. A large dose of backstory that could fill a cargo hold is delivered via a long series of television news reports. A number of them detail some of the activities of a terrorist group known as The Tribe, and then we have to sit through another string of reports about the company known as Lieb Industries, and its continuing issues with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Finally the last dispatch announces a large corporate event in Paris which corporate titan Bruce Lieb will be attending, kicking off our film.

For unknown reasons the CIA and British Intelligence have agents in tuxedos at the affair, and working nearby is federal agent Paul Ross (Couture). Vinny Jones (Juggernaut, X-Men: The Last Stand) lends the most star power here as a British agent and Ross’ friend, yet despite being portrayed in the promotional material as engaged in a firefight aboard a plane Jones is actually killed off before we even take to the skies. This is Couture’s film from here on, and he does little to push the affair forward.

As the other plot details are being off-loaded we also learn Paul Ross is grumbling about the recent end of his engagement to Olivia (Tiffany DuPont), a PR rep who just happens to be in Paris to work for the Lieb party. The script then contorts to bring everyone together on board Lieb’s private jumbo jet and soon everyone is in place for the titular hijacking. The balance of this film is supposed to be a rollicking action adventure, but director/writer/producer Brandon Nutt fails at the entire enterprise. Not only does he fail to coax a performance from his kick-boxing lead actor but the entire cast refuses to act as if anything approaching excitement transpires. A plane has been taken over and nobody behaves with the least bit of energy; there is no panicked reaction, no raising of voices, and I cannot recall a single scene where anyone, from the hijackers to the pilots to the hostages, behaves with any sense of urgency to the reality of a mid-air transcontinental hijacking taking place.

As the (yawn) intrigue drags on in a variety of drab sets we eventually get to a conclusion that was essentially telegraphed in those news montages at the very start, and in the end we are left with a sense that we just watched an entire film that never actually began. Those early scenes of calm character establishment turn out to be the pace of this entire enterprise. The ad copy promised us “An explosive thriller that takes action to whole new heights!” The result was more like riding on a commuter flight and having a commodities broker fill in the 90 minutes of airtime with tales of his business activities. It left me feeling hijacked.

There are no extras on the disc.


In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

Keep reading... Show less

Pauline Black may be called the Queen of Ska by some, but she insists she's not the only one, as Two-Tone legends the Selecter celebrate another stellar album in a career full of them.

Being commonly hailed as the "Queen" of a genre of music is no mean feat, but for Pauline Black, singer/songwriter of Two-Tone legends the Selecter and universally recognised "Queen of Ska", it is something she seems to take in her stride. "People can call you whatever they like," she tells PopMatters, "so I suppose it's better that they call you something really good!"

Keep reading... Show less

Morrison's prose is so engaging and welcoming that it's easy to miss the irreconcilable ambiguities that are set forth in her prose as ineluctable convictions.

It's a common enough gambit in science fiction. Humans come across a race of aliens that appear to be entirely alike and yet one group of said aliens subordinates the other, visiting violence upon their persons, denigrating them openly and without social or legal consequence, humiliating them at every turn. The humans inquire why certain of the aliens are subjected to such degradation when there are no discernible differences among the entire race of aliens, at least from the human point of view. The aliens then explain that the subordinated group all share some minor trait (say the left nostril is oh-so-slightly larger than the right while the "superior" group all have slightly enlarged right nostrils)—something thatm from the human vantage pointm is utterly ridiculous. This minor difference not only explains but, for the alien understanding, justifies the inequitable treatment, even the enslavement of the subordinate group. And there you have the quandary of Otherness in a nutshell.

Keep reading... Show less

A 1996 classic, Shawn Colvin's album of mature pop is also one of best break-up albums, comparable lyrically and musically to Joni Mitchell's Hejira and Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks.

When pop-folksinger Shawn Colvin released A Few Small Repairs in 1996, the music world was ripe for an album of sharp, catchy songs by a female singer-songwriter. Lilith Fair, the tour for women in the music, would gross $16 million in 1997. Colvin would be a main stage artist in all three years of the tour, playing alongside Liz Phair, Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Meshell Ndegeocello, Joan Osborne, Lisa Loeb, Erykah Badu, and many others. Strong female artists were not only making great music (when were they not?) but also having bold success. Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill preceded Colvin's fourth recording by just 16 months.

Keep reading... Show less

Frank Miller locates our tragedy and warps it into his own brutal beauty.

In terms of continuity, the so-called promotion of this entry as Miller's “third" in the series is deceptively cryptic. Miller's mid-'80s limited series The Dark Knight Returns (or DKR) is a “Top 5 All-Time" graphic novel, if not easily “Top 3". His intertextual and metatextual themes resonated then as they do now, a reason this source material was “go to" for Christopher Nolan when he resurrected the franchise for Warner Bros. in the mid-00s. The sheer iconicity of DKR posits a seminal work in the artist's canon, which shares company with the likes of Sin City, 300, and an influential run on Daredevil, to name a few.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.