Sunday, April 23, 2017

Trash Bin: ALTITUDE (2017)

Welcome to another installment of the TRASH BIN, where we watch the worst movies Hollywood has to offer, according to the critics, and give you our thoughts, good or bad. This week's pick is the 2017 action movie...ALTITUDE.

Yes, Merc readers, I was picking through the trash bin again to find a movie to review and I found one in the thriller category, Altitude starring Dolph Lundgren and Denise Richards. Though, to be honest, I found this movie to be more along the lines of slightly cheesy and entertaining than terrible like some reviewers found it to be.

In Altitude, Denise Richards plays FBI agent Gretchen Blair who is on her way to Washington D.C. to spend the rest of her career behind a desk after going against orders on her last assignment in Los Angeles.  When she boards the plane, Blair finds an obnoxious man in her assigned seat and, after a verbal altercation with him, she is reseated in first class by a sympathetic Airline stewardess named Clare (Chelsea Edmundson).  That’s your first clue this is not like any real airline.

Gretchen finds herself seated in first class next to a charming and talkative British gentleman named Terry (Kirk Barker). It’s all witty ‘getting to know each other’ banter between them while sipping champagne until a last-minute passenger boards the plane. Terry goes silent in shock clueing the audience in to the fact that the tall, imposing looking blond man is an unwelcome someone from Terry’s past. Very few actors can do tall, blond, and imposing like Dolph Lundgren, who plays the lead bad guy named Sharpe.  Once Terry recovers from the sight of seeing this ghost from his past, he begins trying to convince Gretchen, who has told him she is law enforcement, that the plane is about to be high-jacked and that he will pay her a large sum of money to protect him.

As soon as the plane takes off, another of the bad people from Terry’s past reveals herself, his ex-girlfriend Sadie who had been posing as a stewardess. She wastes no time beginning her reign of badness by killing a young and perky steward named Rick (played with blindingly over the top enthusiasm by Jonathan Lipnicki), locking Clare in a restroom, and attempting to poison Luke Byres (Jordi Vilasuso), the onboard Air Marshall. Then it’s onto killing the captain and the co-pilot so Sharpe can take control of the plane.  Sadie than takes delight in torturing Terry to find out where the items he stole from them are hidden while the rest of the gang searches the plane.

Altitude, which is written by Jesse Mittelstadt and Tyler W. Kornney and directed by Alex Merkin, has all the clichéd elements found in a movie about bad guys pulling a heist on an airliner in midflight. However, it has some surprises as well. The story for Altitude boasts two strong female characters on different sides of spectrum and they are what makes this movie worth watching. Agent Gretchen Blair is the kind of tough, resourceful, and dedicated law enforcement officer role usually played by men in these kinds of movies.  Denise Richards makes the character believable as any character of this type can be in this kind of genre movie.  On the other side of spectrum is Sadie, an almost Harley-Quinn-like character who is both beautiful and dangerous. Greer Grammer revels in this role and imbues it with the kind of insanity and dangerous edginess it needs. Yet, it never becomes too campy, which could have easily happened.

As for Dolph Lundgren, in my opinion he was in Altitude more to add a presence to it than anything else as his character, Sharpe, did very little in the way of action or direct interaction with the other characters in the movie.  Then again, very few actors can do imposing presence like Dolph Lundgren can, so he really fits the character and what it was needed to be for the story and he looks darn sharp in grey silk suit. Yes, you heard me right, Sharpe looks sharp!

Jonathan Lipnicki has only a small role in Altitude, that of an upbeat steward who dances and sings to his own music even if the passengers are less than delighted. Lipnicki is a joy to watch and adds the bit of comedy that Altitude needs before it fully devolves into serious action.

So, yes, Altitude is clichéd and it doesn’t try to play games about who is the good guys and who is the bad guys, until the very end when one of the players reveals that they were never on the side you were lead to believe they were. That keeps the twist fresh in a plot filled with stale devices.  Even though it’s overly predictable plot makes it trash bin fodder, Altitude is still a good movie to sit back with a bowl of popcorn and spend a little time watching.

Marla’s Score: 5/10

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