Flight of the Phoenix directed by John Moore, written by Scott Frank and Edward Burns from the screenplay by Lukas Heller, produced by William Aldrich, Alex Blum, Wyck Godfrey and John Davis, with Dennis Quaid, Giovanni Ribisi, Miranda Otto and Hugh Laurie. 119 minutes. A 20th Century Fox release. Opens Wednesday (December 22). Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
This is a remake of Robert Aldrich's classic 1965 adventure movie about a disparate group of men who've crashed in the Sahara and try to reconstruct their plane to escape. This Flight Of The Phoenix can't match the gritty grandeur of the original cast: James Stewart, Peter Finch, Richard Attenborough, Ian Bannen, George Kennedy. There aren't a lot of actors like that around these days, and styles of masculine heroism have shifted over the decades.
However, give director John Moore (Behind Enemy Lines) and screenwriters Scott Frank and Edward Burns credit for realizing they shouldn't mess with the original structure; it works just like that crazy airplane they start building to save themselves.
Dennis Quaid has the Jimmy Stewart role, the cynical pilot, and is very good. It's a nice break in the string of stinkers Quaid's been in since Far From Heaven. Giovanni Ribisi, in the "who the hell is that guy?" role, seems to be doing a direct homage to Hardy Krüger, who played it in the original. Sand, sun and people fighting over water. What more could you ask for? Well, a less spectacular opening crash - it's so bad, you think nobody could walk away from that mess.
Solid, uncomplicated entertainment.