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film reel image

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

97 Minutes 2023 * * * Stars


In 2023's 97 Minutes, the title refers to the amount of time a 767 plane has before it runs out of fuel. How random. But hey, that's just scratching the surface because there's much more to "97's" ode to unlawful seizes, much much more. 

97 Minutes is a hijack movie, an air disaster flick, a suicide mission vehicle complete with all the trimmings (that includes sneering terrorists, faulty operating limitations, and nuclear bombs in the belly). Co-starring the resurrected Alec Baldwin and Jo Martin, the film obviously looks like it was made on a restricted budget, shooting most of its scenes on two set locations (one of which probably wasn't even an actual plane). No matter, I dug "97". Why? Because despite its slight improbability and early on, muted character developments, the thing has brains (and some brawn). I mean somewhere Capt. Joe Patroni is well, smiling, gleefully. 

Earning most of its hour and a half runtime with raveled plot workings and twist and turns that resemble any actual, disastrous 767 at mid-flight, 97 Minutes is its own entity, not trying to be commercialized like Air Force One or arty like United 93 (not that those films were bad cause they weren't). "97" is well, the thinking man's flying bird thriller, only exhibiting brute force when it has to and telling its story from an impassioned, Cold War-like point of view. 

"97's" strongest asset has to be star Jonathan Rhys Meyers, an actor who has an uncanny way of carrying a close-packed pic with searing screen presence and a raw, physical dedication to his role. Meyers plays Alex, an undercover Interpol agent whose antihero vibes and two-faced lures give the audience member the feeling of being held in a cinematic vice grip. He basically helps 97 Minutes "soar" even higher (pun intended). 

Written by Jesse Burleson

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