Saturday, 17 May 2008

Flight of Fury (2007)

Woohoo! Steven Seagal slow motion hero walk!

After pooping out two releases in 2006, Michael Keusch and Steven Seagal teamed up a third time in 2007 to bring us Flight of Fury. In this film Seagal squeezes his generous girth into the cockpit of a stealth bomber, a first for him, and attempts to take down a cabal of Afghani terrorists before they can unleash a deadly biological weapon.

The film opens with Seagal about to have his memory wiped because he is too awesome. He escapes thanks to the help of a janitor and a sexy nurse, who are neither introduced nor seen again. Seagal can never stay out of trouble for long, and he only stops in at a diner for a few minutes before three guys attempt an armed robbery. Seagal intervenes and after a violent gun battle everybody is dead, including the cashier, and the store is shot to shit. Thank goodness Seagal was there or it could have been trouble!

Meanwhile General Barnes (Angus MacInnes) is preparing to test the new X-77 stealth fighter. It's fitted with "active stealth" which means that turns it invisible like Wonder Woman's jet. Optic camouflage might be a bit of overkill for a stealth bomber that flies at 50,000 feet, but that bloated military budget won't spend itself. During the test, however, the pilot Ratcher (Steve Toussaint) flips on the cloaking device and sets a course for a terrorist camp in Afghanistan. A terrorist group led by the Oxford educated Stone (Vincenzo Nicoli) intends to load it up with chemical weapons and drop them on Europe and the United States. Why? Because they're evil terrorists, that's why!

In every Seagal film there must be a scene where a bunch of people gasp in awe at how amazing Seagal is. In this film it's at the police station, where some cops are crowded around the robbery surveillance footage, convinced that Seagal is some sort of unbelievable bad-ass on the level of Superman or God. Seagal is bailed out by General Barnes, and we learn that Seagal is also the best fighter pilot ever. He is assigned the task of retrieving the stolen bomber and reluctantly partnered with a rookie hotshot pilot named Jannick (Mark Bazeley).

During their long, boring flight to Afghanistan, their ground support crew of Navy SEALs are wiped out when they are ambushed by terrorists and stupidly stand in the middle of an open room until they are completely surrounded. Soon after arriving in a curiously Romanian looking area of Afghanistan, Seagal and Jannick get into a firefight with some terrorists and Jannick is captured. Seagal meets up with his contacts, some hot chick named Jessica (Ciera Payton) and Rojar (Alki David), the token good Arab. Together they set out to rescue Jannick and retrieve the stolen bomber before the terrorists carry out their plan and/or the terrorist base is blown to pieces by American forces.

The rest of the film plays out pretty much as you'd expect. The final action scene at the terrorist camp is actually pretty entertaining, even if the subsequent stock-footage heavy dogfight pretty much squanders all that excitement. Keusch pulls out every trick in the book to make Seagal look threatening, but it's rarely convincing. Highlights include an awkward stick fight between Seagal and a terrorist that drags on for several minutes, and a fight that is framed so that only Seagal's stunt double's legs and arms are visible.

Keusch uses a lot of stock footage in this film, and it varies greatly in quality. Don't expect to ever see two jets in a single shot, even when they are dogfighting. Hell, they are usually surrounded by completely different terrain. The same few clips of fighter jets are used over and over, and the film is padded with establishing shots of aircraft carriers and the like.

Seagal sleepwalks through his performance, with an army of stunt doubles and voice-dubbers ready to pick up the slack. The dubbing isn't as prolific as in Attack Force, and the guy at least attempts to imitate Seagal. Ciera Payton is pretty hot as Jessica, who must be the most provocatively dressed woman in Afghanistan. At one point she even seduces a lesbian terrorist. Alki David plays a pretty embarrassing stereotype, constantly calling Seagal "boss" and shouting "Kiss my big fat Arab ass."

The previous two Seagal/Keusch films were plagued by a jumble of idiotic, poorly-told subplots. Thankfully, Flight of Fury keeps it simple with a single idiotic, poorly-told plot. There's still a lot of plot holes, but at least you can tell what's going on most of the time. Flight of Fury squeaks over the line of mediocrity, and that's a marked improvement over Attack Force and Shadow Man. This is probably your only opportunity to see Seagal in an uncomfortably snug flight suit though, so if that's what you're after, have at it.

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