My Take – Just when you thought you are done with disaster flicks here comes along another one which is surprisingly so good that it keeps you hooked on to the seat for its 138 minutes run time with popcorn tight in your hand. This Russian language film produced by the prestigious Russia-1 Channel is Inspired by the 1979 Soviet film Air Crew. This is the second time a catastrophe based film has been shot in the Russian Federation. This is also the first Russian film to be shot using digital 3D IMAX camera. While recent events are certainly going to pose challenges for the producers and distributors when it comes to selling a Russian air disaster film to the audience, but whoever may end up watching it, will definitely agree that director Nikolay Lebedev has done his job well.
Focused more on the concept of bravery, self-sacrifice and human dignity put on trial by the merciless power of nature, the film manages to jump well from being an intense thriller to a tear jerker. The story follows Alexey Gushchin (Danila Kozlovsky), a talented young pilot who does not acknowledge authority and chooses to act in accordance with a personal code of honor. He is discharged from military air forces for a failure to fulfill a senseless order, and merely by a miracle gets a chance to fly civilian aircrafts. Having started from scratch as a trainee pilot under the supervision of Leonid Zinchenko (Vladimir Mashkov), a harsh pilot of principle, Gushchin gradually gets used to life of a pilot of civil aviation behind whose back there is not a parachute but hundreds of passengers. His relations with the trainer change from worship and implicit faith to estrangement due to Leonid’s non rule bending personality. His relationship with co worker / female pilot Alexandra (Agne Grudyte) initially starts off well until their ego and contrasting personalities keeps coming between their relationship. Due to Alexey’s scuffle with a VIP passenger during a flight, the airline places Zinchenko & his crew on duty for flying an empty private plane to South East Asia. However in midair, the crew receives a distress message of an earthquake that started on a volcanic island in the ocean and makes a decision to attempt a rescue mission. Will it be a success? Will they survive the disaster? They have a single chance to find that out: by being a team and sticking up for one another.
While the first half of the film is focused in building the characters of the crew, especially between Alexey & Alexandra and Zinchenko & his family namely his spoiled son Valera (Sergey Romanovich
), it also discusses important issues like family values, human dignity and courage, but once the disaster occurs, the whole crew has to find a way to save hundreds of people despite the odds (which are so many that they could have been 2-3 separate films). This Nikolay Lebedev
film despite its focus on the disaster in the latter half, at soul remains a film about pilots of civil aviation, about everyday life of representatives of this romantic and noble profession. Even though our lead turns out to be a superhero of some kind, the rest of the characters portray how ordinary people can be heroes too. Comparatively the action sequences & the CGI usage was excellent! This did not feel like a film made in just 9 million dollars. Among the performances, Danila Kozlovsky
and Vladimir Mashkov
are excellent leads. With strong screen presence & believable emotions, its a pleasure to watch this co pilots to rambling at each other. Katerina Shpitsa
and Agne Grudite
look really pretty but have hardly anything to do here. Sergey Kempo
and Sergey Romanovich
also give in strong performances. On the whole, ‘Flight Crew/ The Crew/ Ekipazh
‘ is an intense emotional joy ride which is highly watchable to the core.