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The ZONE - genre nonfiction
Soundchecks - music reviews
Rotary Action - helicopter movies
cast: Andrew Keegan, Natalia Cigliuti, Brandon Quinn, and Reno Wilson
writer and director: Kim Bass
95 minutes (18) 2010
widescreen ratio 1.78:1
Kaleidoscope DVD Region 2
review by Mark West
Strayer (Andrew Keegan), Rain Man (Brandon Quinn), and F-Man (Nick Carter) are a group of speed-freak pilots (lightweight 'plastic' planes being
their speciality) who call themselves 'The Fly Guys' (and no, I'm not making that up). In order to maintain their rock 'n' roll, Hollywood lifestyle
(which we glimpse once, briefly, at a party that looks suspiciously like a school disco), they transport crystal meth across the Mexican border
and life is good. Then, in a sting operation that is over almost before it's begun, they get roped into helping the feds (remember, these heroes
of ours are drug smugglers), with the promise of all charges dropped, if they go into Mexico to rescue a DIA agent called Jackson (Reno Wilson).
Luckily, the man in charge at the DIA (who isn't high enough "up the pay scale" to know computer system passwords) is on first name terms with the
President of the USA (Robert Patrick) because they once flew together.
It's difficult to know where to start with this review. Should it be the acting (virtually every person you see on screen is recognisable from
something or other, yet all of them perform with as much finesse and art as amateurs at the local panto - and I apologise to said amateurs, for
defaming them in such a way), which is flat and un-involving, and often appears merely seconds from having the actor look into the camera and
frown? Should it be the writing, which confuses leaden chit-chat as banter, has no ear whatsoever for the ring of naturalistic dialogue and literally
embraces complete lapses in logic?
Should it be with the picture quality - it appears to have been shot on DV, with poor results made worse by having everything filtered as if it'd
sat in the sun for days? Should it be the fact that the night shots are so dark as to make the image unintelligible, unless stock footage is being
used which is crystal clear and clearly defined? Should it be the editing, which is pedestrian at best, amateur at worst. Should it be the soundtrack,
which veers from disposable hip-hop to Steppenwolf, sometimes following straight on from one another? Or should it be for all of that, hinting strongly
that this is a film which fails on so many levels it's difficult to discern exactly what's most responsible?
Having said all this, the direction isn't too bad. It's not brilliant, but at least the shots are framed and some of it would have looked nice in
Miami Vice (the 1980s' TV show, not the later film). In its favour, the flying sequences are well handled and quite thrilling in their own
right, but they only serve - in the end - to highlight the fact that the rest of the film is just filler. Some of the flying shots are special
effects and they work well initially - flying through the skyscrapers of a Californian city or through a car tunnel - until you realise that nobody
thought about the pedestrians. If I was driving a car through a tunnel and a jet flew over, barely 20 feet above my car, I would almost certainly
put my brakes on, assuming that the car wasn't knocked over by the engines. Oh well.
I assume this wants to be The Fast And The Furious, with jets instead
of cars, but it fails on so many levels that it even makes Paul Walker's turn in 2 Fast 2 Furious seem like a masterclass in acting and tension.
There were no extras on my screener copy, for which I am eternally grateful to the film company. Avoid this like the plague - you'll thank me later.