Flight of the Phoenix (2004)


Flight of the Phoenix is a 2004 remake of a 1965 film, both based on the 1964 novel The Flight of the Phoenix by Elleston Trevor. The film stars Dennis Quaid and Giovanni Ribisi, and opened in the US on December 17, receiving mixed reviews.


When an Amacor oil rig in the Gobi Desert of Mongolia proves unproductive, Captain Frank Towns (Quaid) and copilot A.J. (Gibson) are sent to shut the operation down. However, on their way to Beijing, a major dust storm rips apart one of their engines, forcing them to crash land their C-119 Flying Boxcar in an uncharted area of the desert. Their cargo consists of used parts and tools from the rig, the rig's crew, and Elliot (Ribisi), a lone drifter. On the way down, the plane is damaged beyond repair, one crew member, Kyle (Brown), falls to his death out the aircraft's damaged cargo hatch, and two others, Dr. Gerber (Ditchfield) and Newman (Hindy), die from trauma inflicted by turbulence and impact. When the storm ends and the dust settles, it becomes apparent that they are 200 miles off course with only one month's worth of water available. Jeremy (Jones) thinks about leaving, but Rady (Malikyan) explains that the month they're in (July) is the hottest in the Gobi, and that he wouldn't be able to make it. Jeremy keeps up an argument, but finally says "You win" and agrees to stay. Rady says that this isn't about winning or losing; it's about staying alive. It's nighttime, and Davis (Padalecki) tells Rodney that he is worried because he "Jinksed" the others. Rodney tells him not to worry about it. Davis then goes out to urinate and gets lost. He is killed and halfway buried by another dust storm and is not found by his crew. When the rest of the group realizes that he has disappeared, they are shaken up by it and morale drops. Kelly (Otto) explains to Towns that everyone is getting scared about Davis' disappearance. Towns tells her that they're grown men and that they can handle it. When more decide to try leaving, Towns stops them and declares "no-one else dies". At first they decide, with the counsel of Towns, to just sit and await rescue. However, after surveying the situation and realizing that their value to Amacor is less than they had originally believed, they reconsider and are pitched a radical idea by Elliot, who claims to be an aeronautical engineer: rebuild the remains of their C-119 into a new, functional aircraft. Towns initially refuses, which causes Liddle (Campbell) to wander off on his own out of protest. When the others attempt to go in search of him, Towns stops them and tries to make them stay put. Kelly then tosses his own words back at him, and Towns decides to find Liddle on his own. Taking only a small canteen of water, he sets off following the footsteps left in the sand. After a long while, with the desert taking its toll on him, he comes across a valley littered with fresh debris. This turns out to be cargo from the plane which had been dropped when the tail was cut open. Among the debris, he discovers the stripped body of Kyle, full of bullet wounds with shell casings clustered on the ground near him. At this point, Liddle appears to Towns and explains that someone had already been there and took the watch that Kyle won from him in a poker match. They struggle for several weeks rebuilding the plane through dust storms, lack of water, and fighting amongst the group. They christen it "The Phoenix" after the legendary bird. They finally get to have some break time, playing music on Sammi's (Vargas) iPod. But a problems evolves when a group of smugglers camp nearby and when the survivors attempt to communicate, the bandits kill Rodney, but are killed in a short, fierce skirmish when ambushed by Towns. Soon enough it is revealed that Elliot's aircraft design experience has, to this point, been restricted to the design of model airplanes, and the others get furious at him. Jeremy wrestles Elliot to the ground, and Ian (Laurie) realizes that they are going to die out here, and goes out of his mind to the point of attempting to kill Elliot with a gun. However, they eventually are able to construct the new aircraft and take off barely in time to escape a larger group of bandit attackers. Through a series of photos, we see what became of the crew when they made it back to civilization. All have been revitalized by the experience: Towns and A.J. start their own airline (appropriately named Phoenix), Sammi and his wife start their own restaurant (Jeremy and Rady are there to celebrate), Liddle is reunited with his wife and kids, Ian becomes a professional golfer, Kelly is working at an ocean oil rig and Elliot wears a flight suit on a magazine cover with the headline "NASA's New Hope?"