with its generic title and released by anchor bay just before the expendables 2 came out, knowledgeable fans of the genre should know to adjust their expectation accordingly even before seeing hijacked (2012). while it does live up (or down) to the expectation of a low budget dtv die-hard-on-a-plane movie, it does offer randy couture a rare starring role. i remember couture, a former ufc fighter, in the expendables and set up/setup with BRUCE. what i didn’t know was that he’s from my neck of the woods, and he also had small parts in diverse projects such as david mamet’s redbelt and tv’s the unit, with rob schneider in rob schneider IS big stan, tv’s king of queens, with steven seagal in today you die, and with jet li in cradle
to 2 the grave. like couture himself, hijacked (2012) has a few tricks up its sleeves.
the opening scenes set itself apart from the generic dtv wreckages. while it takes places in europe, it spares us the cheaply made eastern european locales (even though it’s shot in baton rouge, los angeles, and vancouver b.c.). instead of rushing to an i.o.a.s. like a lesser film would have done, the fancy cocktail party opening scenes remind me more of mission impossible 1 than countless other dtv action movies. in fact, even knowing beforehand that it’s a die hard-ish dtv movie starring couture, who’s not in this opening gala scene, it actually pique my interest in how things are gonna go and what they are setting up.
another refreshing element here is that couture is not in these opening scenes, even though we know he’s the lead. on its own, this opening party scene almost works as an i.o.a.s. for a james bond movie, in an alternate universe where vinnie jones is 007 and coture is his sidekick. it’s a kick to see jones as a suave human character instead of the muted, deadly muscleman caricature he’s usually casted as. he gets to have drinks, have normal conversations, chat with the ladies, and wear a tux.
you jones fans should get too excited though. even though his name shows up in the opening credits, jones gets killed pretty early (oh uh spoiler) on in a post-opening-credits action sequence where a team goes after the bad guys at an abandoned warehouse a la the expendables 1. what prevents this from a total loss is that couture is more like a secondary character so far, even though he’s the star of the movie. he didn’t even show up at the fancy party in the opening. while everyone else is dressed up for the festivity, he’s sitting in the back office staring at computer screens and napping.
couture plays paul ross, an american in france who seems to be working with an international coalition to rid the world of a terrorist group named the tribe (spoiler alert!: no lost boys or vampires involved). he has a rocky relationship with olivia (tiffany dupont) who just got a new job working for a french tycoon named bruce lieb (craig fairbrass from tv’s eastenders, cliffhanger, dead cert, uwe boll’s far cry, white noise 2, house of the rising sun with wwe’s batista, and the bank job with jason statham). every time they say his name it sounds like someone’s saying bruce lee but that’s probably coincidental. but for die hard-ish purpose, i’m going to assume that naming him bruce is intentional.
anyway, BRUCE lieb is on his private jet flying to washington d.c. to
testify have a conversation with the u.s. government. couture’s ross discovers information from the aftermath of the opening sequence that he may be the target of the terrorist group. initially boarding the plane to warn him, ross decides to stay on the plane after seeing olivia is one of the passengers. and wouldn’t you know it, a group of bad guys take over the plane and hold everyone on board hostage!
while it does take a good thirty minutes of set up before the plane takes flight, and it would normally be a cause for complaint for a die-hard-on-a-plane movie, hijacked (2012) kind of goes against what’s expected. i kind of like the idea of couture and jones as international anti-terrorist agents. the in-flight movie is obviously couture-as-mcclane on a plane as advertised but unfortunately, everything is on er, autopilot.
one major issue working against the die hard premise is that it’s a private plane instead of one with innocent passengers. while there’s no doubt that someone on the plane is not who they seem to be, there’s never really that much at stake. most of the surprises are either really obvious or revealed early on. there’s never a sense that anyone is in any danger. other than ross and his girlfriend, none of the twelve or so hostages are really sympathetic. all suspenseful elements are introduced but then quickly discarded. e.g. hostages are taken but then quickly left alone without any supervisions. there is also a bomb introduced late in the movie (great! a die hard-ish and hence speed-ish element: it’ll explode when the plane flies below 20,000 feet) but then is disarmed a few scenes later. it’s more of a group effort in the disaster movie vein than the lone hero die hard-ish situation. although i do have the movie credit for having more interesting female characters than probably any die hard-ish movie i’ve seen. the women here actually get to be in on the action, instead of sitting around being hostages or villains.
a highlight for me is dominic purcell as otto southwell, the security chief of BRUCE lieb. purcell, no relation to the shampoo empire, and under the guise of hair and moustache, is totally unrecognizable from killer elite, straw dogs the remake, blade trinity, equilibrium, mission impossible: ii, and yes, house of the rising sun. he reminds me more of alfred molina than his usual bald muscleman role.
though his line deliveries could use some improvement, couture is more than capable in the action department. obviously no one can pull off the bad ass/wisecracking mcclane role as well as BRUCE can. but with his rugged look and beard, i can see couture playing an older mcclane or BRUCE role with an intellectual bent a la william pertersen on c.s.i. he may not be on the same level as john mcclane or david addison or hudson hawk, but i can easily see him at the least, as an american version of jason statham.
also contrarary to die hard-ish movies, there’s a third act twist rather than the good guys getting the bad guys ending. i am still not quite sure how i feel about it. while it’s nice that there is a twist for a supposedly die hard ripoff, they didn’t really do anything to resolve said twist. without an resolution, it feels more like a cross between a shyamalanian twist-for-twist-sake ending and a marvel-esque tease. this is more mission: impossible than die hard. like couture’s performance, there are potentials here to be mined: there is an interesting movie to be made with the characters played by coture, jones, and purcell, too bad it’s buried under a die hard-ish cover. at least there are no post-action a.d.d. editing or forceful low budget cgi.
the pitch: die hard on a plane
bruno, the mcclane surrogate: randy couture
the gruber factor: holt mccallany, who looks familiar, and has apparently been in a lot of movies i’ve seen but i can’t seem to recall anything specific. an interesting twist here is that while he’s more or less the lead villain, it’s arguable that he’s the hans gruber of the movie
the hans objective: $2.73 billion dollars
wrong place at the wrong time: ross reluctantly stays on the plane, mostly because of his girlfriend. he’s not unaccounted for or in the bathroom though, as he is taken as a hostage along with the other passengers on the plane
the help: there’s no help from the outside but dominic purcell’s security chief acts as kind of the al powell of the movie
the family element: while ross is on the plane due to his girlfriend/fiancée, there is another family issue involved
bonfire of the weaponry: guns, knives, bomb, mixed martial arts, cricket pedal
last man standing: a lead villain is dispatched before the climax. the half brilliant/half disappointing twist at the end leads us to think that either they ran out of money or a vain attempt at setting up a franchise
unbearables: couture is on the plane because of a love one, kind of like die hard 1 and 2. the lead villain gives a give-me-what-i-want-and-no-one-will-get-hurt speech to the hostages. there’s a bomb on the plane but it’s more speed-esque than die hard-ish. couture was in the expendables 1 and set up/setup with BRUCE. vinnie jones was in the die hard-ish wwe movie the condemned. craig fairbrass was in the die hard-ish cliffhanger. the ending feels just as awkward as die hard with a vengeance.
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