It’s hard to get behind Flight of Fury, the 2007 Steven Seagal effort, because it’s such a tedious and pointless affair. It’s an unofficial and uncredited remake of the 1998 film Black Thunder, with the glorious Catherine Bell and Michael Dudikoff. Flight of Fury is essentially the same movie with minimal changes, leaving Black Thunder screenwriter William C. Martell with just a “special thanks.”
In the case of this movie, Seagal and frequent collaborator Joe Halpin is given the credit for the screenplay and the story. Unfortunately, this shouldn’t really be a Seagal flick. It doesn’t play to his strengths, which is all the more problematic because there are some nice fight scenes in it. Most of the picture is concerned with planes, at least one of which becomes really, really invisible.
Seagal is Air Force pilot John. He knows too much because of the missions he’s flown, so the military wants to erase his memory. This process is interrupted and he escapes, only to be arrested after defending himself in a robbery. This leads to an encounter with General Tom Barnes (Angus McInnes), who wants John to help recover a stolen Stealth Bomber.
The Bomber was stolen by Ratchet (Steve Toussaint), a corrupt pilot working for Peter Stone (Vincenzo Nicoli). The bad guys want to use the Bomber, which can turn invisible at the flick of a switch, to drop chemical bombs on Europe and the United States. John and his team must stop the terrorists before it’s too late, of course.
Flight of Fury wants to be taken seriously so badly, but it doesn’t pull it off. The screenplay relies on goofy military jargon, which makes the characters incapable of being distinct. There’s a lot of talk about how unique and remarkable the various planes are, plus there’s the obligatory line about Seagal’s character being the best pilot in the world. The bad guy? He’s the second best pilot in the world. Duh.
When Seagal is on the ground and not busy being the best pilot in the world in front of a sea of stock footage, he’s actually kind of neat. There’s a lot more dubbing, although the guy’s voice does sound like Seagal’s in parts, and the action is shot in the usual haphazard way. Michael Keusch is the director again, while Geoffrey Hall is the cinematographer.
The “neat” part of Seagal comes when he thwarts a robbery at a store and gets blamed for being too good at self-defence. He lazily rattles off a funny line when he’s arrested and gets to show signs of the ass-kicking machine from the Above the Law days, but Hall’s shooting is too cluttered. For all the skill John has with a knife, it’s never covered with any clarity.
Luckily, there’s a bit of gratuitous lesbianism to pad the stats. Seagal’s character works with Jessica (Ciera Payton), who is on the ground in Afghanistan and prances around in a robe. When the terrorist Eliana (Katie Jones) comes calling, Jessica works her magic and the boobs come out. But the best part is when the camera pans to Seagal, who’s watching creepily in the shadows. He’s just…standing there.
The issue with Flight of Fury is that the action that’s on the ground has little to do with anything and the action that’s in the air is comprised of footage from elsewhere. Seagal and other characters get to pretend they’re sitting in cockpits, but there’s nothing tangible to cling to. It never seems like Seagal’s character has even been in the air, so buying him as the world’s best pilot is a bit troublesome.
Flight of Fury owes its cohesion, a small miracle in a Seagal picture, to Black Thunder and owes its flying scenes to other movies like Iron Eagle. The rest of it is either tedious or unnecessary or just weird. From the sudden lesbians and Seagal’s leering from the shadows to the preposterous aesthetic of John sitting in the cockpit like he doesn’t belong, this one is not at all ready for takeoff.