xXx: Return of Xander Cage
The last forty minutes of the movie do come together in a pretty diverting way.
The original "Airport" was never one of my favorite movies, but I had to admire the slick, competent way it worked us over for two hours. Its clichés were ancient and its typecasting was relentless, but it didn't bore us. "Airport 1975," a reworking of the same good old ingredients happens, by some happy chance, to be better than the original.
The story is familiar to anyone. A private plane crashes into the flight deck of a 747, killing or disabling its crew. A stewardess pilots the plane by following radioed instructions, and then a rescue pilot (Charlton Heston, inevitably) is lowered from an Air Force helicopter into the gaping hole in the plane. Meanwhile, a young kidney patient grows weaker, a drunk accosts the pilot, and Gloria Swanson dictates the finishing touches on her autobiography ("I never did want the damn thing published while I was alive, anyway").
What makes this work so well is that the screenplay and direction concentrate on the action, instead of getting bogged down in so many subplots, as "Airport" did. It can't be helped, I suppose, that Heston and the brave stewardess (Karen Black) have been having an affair for six years, or that the airline vice president (George Kennedy, promoted from his operations command in "Airport") has a wife and daughter on the crippled plane, or that we have the usual ecumenical mixture of stereotypes, racial groups, ages, sexes, and occupants on board. That's all part of the formula.
But at least "Airport 1975" introduces its characters quickly and without fuss, and then gets on with the business at hand. And after the midair collision (which has been telegraphed for at least twenty minutes), the movie's excellent special effects become really gripping. With "Airport," you never quite felt those people were on a real plane. The exterior shots looked faked. "Airport 1975" has a much more plausible look and a lot of effective aerial photography.
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