Film: “The Crew”; Language: Russian film dubbed in English; Director: Nikolai Lebedev; Cast: Danila Kozlovsky, Vladimir Mashkov and Agne Grutide; Rating: *1/2
Sitting inert for over two hours watching computer-generated flames leap up into the sky to envelope a mid-air flight with passengers who obviously have a lot to worry about.
So do we, for that matter. “The Crew” is actually a Hindi potboiler from the 1980s masquerading as a Russian film. It comes as no surprise to know that the film is a remake of a Russian film from 1980s. Just why any filmmaker would choose to remake a big overblown potboiler with characters who appear to have walked out of Gulshan Nanda’s Hindi novels in the 1970s, is a matter worthy of a search crew.
The film has dozens of characters, all under stress. The pilots look uniformly troubled, as though they watched Dean Martin pilot it up in the 1970 airborne disaster epic titled, what else, “Airport”. “The Crew” very clearly owes allegiance to “Airport” and all the other in-flight disaster sagas which, in the remote past, shot scenes of air calamity with toy planes dangling from a cardboard skyline.
The realism level of “The Crew” is only marginally superior. The earthquake scenes from the location where our heroes rescue hysterical victims and then the mid-air rescue mission are all defined by some of the worst computer-generated special effects seen since Ramanand Sagar’s 1970s war saga “Lalkaar”.
The plot’s “Big Bang” episode is when passengers from an imperilled plane are transferred mid-air into another flight, amidst loud squeals, screams and other noises. The performances are strictly of the look-at-me-I-am-in-an-epic quality. But epic, this ain’t.
Solemn, sullen and static, the plot accommodates the emotional tantrums of the characters like travellers in a crowded bus making room for additional passengers who have just hopped on. In trying to interweave personal relationships into the adventure story, the film fails to find a middle ground between the feelings and the fireworks.
It’s spread out clumsily into a hodgepodge of family ties being rekindled during the mid-air crisis, and hordes of junior artistes discovering their ‘humanism’ during the time of crisis.
The homilies on the spirit of survival and self-preservation are delivered with all the subtlety of two canines mating in the middle of the street oblivious of the staring eyes. Skip this one unless you are a sucker for 1980s’ Bollywood potboilers.
By Subhash K. Jha