Written by: David Brook
Director: Brandon Nutt
Screenplay: Brandon Nutt, Declan O’Brien & Scoop Wasserstein
Starring: Randy Couture, Dominic Purcell, Craig Fairbrass, Holt McCallany, Vinnie Jones, Gina Philips, Tiffany Dupont
Producers: Brandon Nutt & Chase Hudson
Running Time: 86 min
BBFC Certificate: 15
I’m generally a lenient man when it comes to film criticism. After expressing my disappointment in Prometheus on the podcast recently, Laura said to me “but you love everything!”. While that of course isn’t true, I do tend to find something to enjoy about most films I go to see. This is probably largely due by the fact that I usually only actively seek out films that I think I’ll enjoy, so even if I have problems with a film I can usually latch on to something that holds my attention.
Hijacked is not one of those films.
Before I lay into it though, let’s explain the plot; US government agent Paul Ross (Randy Couture) is investigating a global terrorist organisation known as The Tribe. After a tip-off turns out to be a set-up and a close colleague gets killed, he finds further information that suggests The Tribe’s next hit will be the luxury jet of business giant Bruce Lieb (Craig Fairbrass). After warning Lieb of this but getting fobbed off due to the next flight leading to a ‘very important meeting’, Ross ends up staying on the flight (which houses his ex-fiancee Olivia – Tiffany Dupont) to make sure nothing goes wrong. So of course everything goes wrong and a group of the terrorists led by Rostow Pawlak (Holt McCallany) hold the flight to ransom for a ridiculous sum of money. Ross and the flight’s head of security Otto (Dominic Purcell) are thus enforced with the task of bringing the bad guys to justice and getting the plane safely back home.
So far so Passenger 57/Executive Decision (especially the latter given the shock exit of one of its bigger name stars). Well, unfortunately Hijacked doesn’t even rise to those serviceable ‘heights’. Its chief problem lies in its casting. Quite how we’re supposed to accept ex-UFC champion Randy “The Natural” Couture and ex-footballer Vinnie Jones as secret service agents as well as cockney ex-Eastenders star Craig Fairbrass as a billionaire business tycoon I’ll never know. But even if you can suspend your disbelief, the choice of actors ruins the intended tone of the film. By running with the hostage plot, which doesn’t kick in until half way through, it seems as though ‘taut thriller’ was the original plan, but in casting more ‘meat-headed’ action stars this plan fails miserably. Couture does his best, and to be fair to him, he’s not bad, but some of his co-stars, especially the painfully over the top Gina Philips that plays Lieb’s sister, are laughably poor. I kind of liked the villain played by Holt McCallany though (whose character name is Rostow Pawlak – please don’t tell me he’s supposed to be Russian/Eastern European). He’s hardly Gary Oldman and isn’t a powerful screen presence, but he’s fun to watch and delivers some of the cheesy lines more effectively than the rest of the supporting cast.
Director Brandon Nutt does his best to crank up the tension in the first half by dropping suggestive red herrings/hints that various passengers might be involved with the covert terrorist group. The delivery is so poor though that it’s pretty clear who’s who from the start and this section is more dull and drawn out than tense. The film in general is painfully dull, which is its major downfall. It’s thankfully too short to be out and out boring, but everything about it is so bland and predictable (even its inevitable ‘twist ending’) that it never holds your interest. Of course, I fully expected it to be cliched and a bit silly, but I was hoping that the action scenes would make up for this. Well sadly we only get ‘treated’ to about three proper action sequences (plus a couple of minor scuffles) and none of these are particularly noteworthy. These aren’t helped by some dodgy CGI blood and bullet hole effects and ropey airplane exterior cutaways.
Hijacked is just a big damp squib of a film which clumsily attempts to be an exciting action thriller. It’s being marketed as part of the build up to The Expendables 2, with a number of films being released starring members of its impressive cast (keep an eye out for reviews of these over the coming weeks), but whereas Stallone’s film (at least the first instalment) didn’t take itself seriously and was a fun ride, this is a forgettable Ryanair flight to an unwanted business destination. Avoid.
Hijacked is out on 30th July on DVD and Blu-Ray, released by Anchor Bay. I got sent the Blu-Ray and the picture and sound quality are decent although some of the blacks suffered from artifacting and I had the levels fluctuate from time to time although that might have been my TV/Blu-Ray player.
There are no special features on the disc.