I’ve not seen the original, before you ask, but I do know of it, and quite frankly I’m sick fed up of remakes. Yet there was something that attracted me to this story, the cast was one. A nice multi-national crew featuring Dennis Quaid, Hugh Laurie and Tony Curran, and the fact that it’s a very simple story with nothing other than desert and cast to deal with. It kind of gave me the feeling of a slightly larger Ice Cold in Alex.
Unfortunately I was watching it on Sky and at my parents, that means no surround sound and the picture was cropped, damn Sky. However we didn’t seem to lose much of the feel of the movie.
The cinematography value here is high. The movie looks great, it does seem as though they have high production values. The opening sequences with the plane flying over sand dunes are superb, and then when it hits the storm the effects are excellent and it’s at that point the action really kicks in, before that we were introduced to the varied multi-national characters and their initial roles. The crash sequence is well filmed and edited and builds the tension superbly, all the shots here are believable, and have you on the edge of your seat. After this the action really dies down for most of the movie, only restarting at the end, when the believability also flies out the window in favour of Hollywood action.
Quaid is very good in this movie, an actor who I wish we really did see more of. The rest of the cast is an interesting ensemble from Curran to Kevork Malikyan, and it works well. I know that when I see a lone Scotsman in a movie it usually grates like hell with me, partly because they are usually played by Americans, but also because it just doesn’t seem to fit, here it does because the entire cast is a mishmash of people. It really does feel like a group of remote oil workers.
The plane designer, played by Giovanni Ribisi is a terrible character, slimy, loathsome, and someone that you would expect to be a serial killer. Ribisi plays him really well, and through the movie the tension is built in a series of near clashes between characters, until the final clash which turns into a satisfying climax for the character and the movie.
Disappointingly the ending is very formulaic and makes all the Hollywood bells and buzzers flash and bleep, therefore making the Studios and their misinformed test screenings happy. Through the movie a band of vicious Nomads are mentioned, and a small clash occurs between some characters and a Nomad scouting party, but apart from this they are pretty much useless and are merely a very poor tension building device. This is surprising when the rest of the tension building moments are so much better formed.
That said, there are some idiotic moments where you just cannot believe the characters and the decisions they are making, never mind some of the outcomes. My father was almost shouting at the screen in despair.
All said it is an entertaining and effective movie, just suspend your disbelief concerning the reality of the situation after the crash, and grit your teeth through the Hollywood ending, and you’ve got yourself a good movie.