It's still a thriller!
C. MacNeil | Fort Wayne, IN USA | 02/28/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The word "hijack" hadn't been in the American lexion too long in 1972 when this Charleton Heston suspense drama was released. As a commercial pilot, Heston and his 747 are commandeered by a dishonorably discharged and psychotic military veteran (James Brolin in a convincing dastardly turn). Dissolusioned with his American service and seeing himself as a failure in his parents' view, Brolin's character intends to take the jetliner and some of its star-studded passengers to Russia where, in his schizophrenic frame of mind, he will get there the just he thinks he is due. "Skyjacked" distinguishes itself from the onslaught of disaster films that accentuated the '70s in that it is neither a disaster flick nor reliant on special effects. Heston is, as expected, terrific as the captain who doesn't lose sight of his primary function: to keep his passengers alive. Among them are football player-turned actor Rosey Grier; character actresses Yvette Mimeux (the lead flight attendant and, in a soap opera subplot, the "other woman" in Heston's life), a very pregnant Mariette Harley, and Leslie Uggams as another flight attendant; the late Walter Pidgeon as a U.S. senator; and Susan Dey ("The Partridge Family," "LA Law") and Nicholas Hammond ("The Sound of Music" and TV's "Spiderman" in the late '70s) as first-time acquaintances in youthful love. As the off-center hijacker, Brolin gives a bravo performance that makes his fate at film's end very, very satisfying. In sum, "Skyjacked" is worth its salt, and its suspense makes it a worthy flight."
Great video-but no AIRPORT
C. MacNeil | 10/21/1999
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This AIRPORT knock-off is very entertaining and much more believable than the TURBULANCE or FOX channel's air disaster movies of today."
What do you know? Charlton Heston in a GOOD disaster movie
James D. Leverton | San Marcos, CA USA | 09/01/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Well, what do you know? In 1972 Charlton Heston actually starred in a GOOD disaster movie, director John Guillerman's "Skyjacked." Actually, "Skyjacked" is more of a suspense thriller than a disaster movie, with Heston giving a stellar performance as a dedicated pilot who is forced to lock wits with an insane, self-destructive Vietnam veteran-turned-hijacker (James Brolin) who wants to defect to the Soviet Union. Thus, a domestic flight turns into a marathon trip to Moscow by way of Anchorage, with Heston's unflappable pilot using everything he has to keep his adversary calm long enough to save the lives of his passengers and crew.
Actually, in order to enjoy "Skyjacked," one must remember it was made before the advent of metal detectors and other security devices, although the events of 9/11 certainly show how such a hijacking could take place even nowadays. Adapted from a novel called "Hijacked" by Donald Harper, the film is expertly directed by Guillerman, who went on to cohelm "The Towering Inferno" and the 1976 flop remake of "King Kong." He's in top form here, however, creating an admirable amount of suspense and guiding a good cast into vivid performances that transcend their stereotypical characters. And for once the closed confines of a 727 are used to good effect, creating a sense of claustrophobia that rivals the final 30 minutes of the original "Airport" in generating suspense and a sense of dread. And Brolin's live-wire character is an asset, since even though the film follows a fairly predictable path the viewer is never quite sure just how far he will go.
Guillerman's direction only falters during some badly-staged flashback sequences, in which head stewardess Yvette Mimieux remembers her courtship with ex-beau Heston. These sequences actually consist of one of the biggest love story cliches of all time, namely Heston pushing a laughing Mimieux on a swing, which may provoke laughter instead of the romantic longing it is meant to convey. But this is a small part of the film and a relatively minor flaw in an otherwise superior thriller.
The performances are excellent, especially Heston, who displays all the charisma and strength missing from his subsequent, rather embarassing genre performances. He is matched by Brolin, who is so intense and high-strung he is almost unrecognizable. It may be his finest screen hour. Mimieux is strong as the tough stewardess, and Susan Dey (as a hippy), football star Roosevelt "Rosie" Grier (as a musician) and Walter Pidgeon (as a Senator) also register well. But they are all sideline characters. It is the mental duel between Heston and Brolin that is the entire show here, and they are both stellar, especially in the film's final segment, where they are left alone to face each other and the hostile Soviet army that has surrounded the plane upon its arrival in Moscow.
"Skyjacked" is a stellar film for genre addicts, although best for those who prefer suspense over hard action and thrills. Unfortunately, it is unavailable on DVD and the VHS version is in pan-and-scan, which is a detriment considering the film was shot in panavision 2:35:1 and loses much in its chopped-up television prints. My advice is to hold out for a widescreen DVD. Otherwise, buyer beware. **** (out of *****) for the film only, not the VHS which rates * (out of *****)
A note: "Skyjacked" was idiotically renamed "Sky Terror" for its television showings and may still be known as such in some cable listings. But they are the same movie."
Erik North | San Gabriel, CA USA | 07/29/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Even a trusted Hollywood icon like Charlton Heston isn't safe from a certain amount of terror. He plays the pilot at the controls of this 1972 suspense drama, one of the many disaster films (or "multi-jeopardy" films, as Heston liked to call them) made during the 1970s. James Brolin is excellent as the seemingly all-American army man who orders Heston's plane to be flown into Russia. John Guillermin's direction is pretty good, and there isn't all that much melodrama like we see in many other such movies. The film was actually banned in Australia because the government there was afraid it would encourage copycat incidents. Nothing of the sort happened, and the film became another huge hit for Heston in his post-epic days."