As the tormented co-pilot forced to assume control of a damaged plane (Through a thunderstorm! With his ex-girlfriend on board as flight attendant! And the captain's been knocked out! And there's a murderer on the flight planning to take them hostage!), Roberts doesn't necessarily give a full performance. The material's not worth it. Not a problem. He certainly remains interesting to watch in his own way. I've claimed before that Moulin Rouge isn't a particularly fine film, but it's compulsively watchable in the same way the downfall of civilization would be. Eric Roberts is more like observing some poor guy who thinks he can't get his car started when it's really a flat tire. There's just something there.
Rough Air makes one long for the days of the drive-in, where the movie was unexceptional but somehow pleasing in its contrivances. There are corny, obviously fake shots of the plane in flight being hit by lightning and the like which deserve their own laugh track; but that's got nothing on the rudimentary character development of the in-flight passengers: the Asshole Rich Guy, the Detective, the Nice Young Chinaman and His Wife, the Frightened Stewardess, the Stoic Jock. I kept waiting for the Singing Nun, but that was too much to hope for.
What's surprising is how Rough Air couldn't be bothered to elaborate on the de-facto love story between Eric Roberts and former Baywatch lifeguard Alexandra Paul. Roberts occasionally seems to go for those raunchy Basic Instinct rip-offs, so it's odd to see that the producers don't force a Mile High Club sex scene as the plane coasts on autopilot through the storm. That's good, though. Running at a taut 90 minutes or so, Rough Air hasn't got a minute to lose.
In Theaters: Saturday 25th May 2002
Production compaines: Carlton America, Tele München Gruppe
Contactmusic.com: 1.5 / 5
IMDB: 4.1 / 10
Director: Jon Cassar
Producer: Mary Pantelidis
Screenwriter: Jim Makichuk
Starring: Eric Roberts as First Officer Mike Hogan, Alexandra Paul as Flight Attendant Kate Phillips, Mark Lutz as Ty Conner, Susan Aceron as Susan Lee, Alexis Cassar as Lex, John Furey as Kevin Muldoon, Larissa Gomes as Margo Hilling, Kelly Ivey as Ripley, Daryn Jones as Kerry Sanders, Kevin Jubinville as Brooks, Anne Openshaw as Tracey Nichols, Leah Pinsent as Sarah, Ryan Scott as Sam, Russell Yuen as Roger Lee, Eliza Roberts as Mrs. Sanders