Monday, 26 November 2007

Air Panic (aka Triumph in the Sky)

Air Panic (aka Triumph in the Sky) (2001)

Directed by: Bob Misiorowski
Screenplay: Adam Geirash & Jace Anderson
Starring: Rod Rowland, Kristianna Loken and Barbara Carrera

Back in the day (the Nineties anyway) Nu Image cranked out low budget action flicks, creature features and disaster movies. Air Panic (or Triumph in the Sky as it’s known on these shores) was one of their later disaster flicks that, despite it obvious low budget, pushes the concept of air disaster to extreme limits. The story is pretty simple: a disgruntled ex-employee of some company or another creates some device to control planes and sets about crashing them into various buildings and oceans. A cocky flight inspector dude figures this out and rushes to board the next doomed plane (which he does in the most insane and stunt happy way). Its then up to him, the sexy stewardess, the usual assortment of odd ball passengers and the heroes’ buddies on the ground to take back control of the plane before the nutter crashes it into a nuclear power plant. Fun stuff.

Air Panic is an enjoyable B-movie that despite all it absurdness (isn’t that what B-movie’s are founded on?) rattles along at a breakneck pace and is made all the more entertaining by the quality of acting. Rowland, Loken (pre T3 fame) and a few others perform well above the norm for this kind of flick, bringing a little more edge to proceedings. Yeah, the bad dude overacts into oblivion (he is crazy after all!) and there is the obligatory nutter who can’t stand flying and inevitably opens the door mid flight, but in general the cast perform very well. Geirash and Anderson’s script is nothing more than a carbon copy of Speed (complete with hero’s best mate going to the villain’s house only to be blown to smithereens) but the director keeps everything tight, meaning we are never far away from the next in flight disaster or crashing into a mountain scene. The action and tension is ratcheted up nicely, even managing to shoe horn in the destruction of the Baltimore airport and how many B-movies can boast that?

Unfortunately, Air Panic has one major flaw preventing it from being solid gold B-movie entertainment: the special effects. Save for one cool scene where a jet engine falls off and bounces into the airport the effects are very poor. CGI is so amateurish that it often looks unfinished and the digital planes never convince. I know it’s a low budget movie but the effects surely could have been a bit better than this. However, if you can get past that major flaw, then Air Panic is a fun, silly and action packed ride and a definite recommendation for those who like aviation disaster movies.

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