Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

Here’s a theoretical scenario for you. The Man has just given you around 500 large to shoot a low budget movie. He doesn’t care who you cast in this movie since any low budget hero that won’t kill the budget will do, Costas Mandylor, Casper Van Dien, Tony Todd, Lorenzo Lamas… but The Man has only given you the choice of two directors. Jim Wynorski and the man behind today’s crapterpiece ‘Turbulent Skies’, Fred Olen Ray. Those are your choices and you are not allowed to direct it yourself. I have no answer for you on this conundrum, just floating it out there. And if you are asking me ‘who is Jim Wynorski and Fred Olen Ray’, we may have to revoke your FCU membership. Or worse… or better, depending on how you look at it, we may request that you grab a half dozen Wynorski’s and Ray’s and come up to speed over the course of a weekend. This I would not recommend.

After a horrific plane crash caused by the worlds most incompetent pilot, the golden opportunity has arrived for Devry Industries… I guess that’s the name… to launch their super advanced piloting A.I. onto the world. The brainchild of Tom (Casper Van Dien), Devry Industries hard working, strong chinned programmer, and his estranged wife Samantha (Nicole Eggert), she of the plunging neckline and a wide-eyed look on her face of constant shock, this A.I. is super awesome in every possible way and will change air travel as we know it. Once we iron out all of the kinks that is.

Somebody should’ve told this to mega asshole Devry Industries vice president Charles Devry (Patrick Muldoon) who has decided this would be a great time to stick people on a plane controlled by this A.I. and send them from Los Angeles to New York. This upsets Tom with the strong chin, who in New York, thinks it is stupid to do this, and accuses his wife of coupling with Charles the asshole, considering his wife is in L.A. with Charles and is about to jump on this A.I. controlled flight with Charles. Tom then asks his boss Richard (Brad Dourif), Devry president and father of Charles the asshole to reconsider this stupid decision. Richard gives Tom a bonus chuck for a cool mil to shut him up. Tom is completely on board now, even though I’m thinking he might want to cash that check as soon as possible.

As you might imagine, once this plane takes to the ‘Turbulent Skies’, all heck breaks loose. Thanks to Charles the asshole, apparently one of those nasty Russian designed computer viruses has gotten into this A.I., despite the fact this A.I. looks like bottom of the barrel BASIC programming and I doubt there are any viruses that could actually disable this rudimentary nonsense. Charles did have the good sense to put real pilots on the plane for safety, but damn if they won’t be of any help right now. So now we have a 747 flying out of control, heading for a major metropolitan area and the government has decided it must shoot it down! Unless, somehow, we can get the master programmer on this plane, someway, to disable this A.I., somehow. And then land the plane with no pilots on board. Oh my.

My friends, if you choose to watch ‘Turbulent Skies’, you are in for a treat. Not the juicy, tasty kind of treat that mom used to promise us for cleaning our rooms, but the kind of treat that only comes from watching a completely ridiculous, poorly crafted action flicks. I did like the little marketing blurb announcing this as a ‘Starship Troopers’ reunion, despite the absence of Neil Patrick Harris, Denise Richards and most importantly… Dina Meyer. Come on man.

Anyway, while ‘Turbulent Skies’ is fairly terrible as a movie, there are still nuggets of joy to be had in this movie. Our top programmer has to make a mid air transfer to get on the plane to disable the A.I., and Captain Taggert is there with him, the best in the world at this, in making this happen. Captain Taggert sucks at this. The plane attaches to the 747 and the pilot announces that there are only two minutes to make the transfer. NOW Captain Taggert has instructions to give Tom, which uses up one of the two minutes, instructions he could’ve given Tom at any time during the half hour flight to the 747. In fact, the only thing that Captain Taggert really did was give Tom a bottle compressed air to breathe. I could’ve done that. More importantly, one would’ve thought that a pilot might’ve been included during this air-to-air transfer considering there’s nobody around to fly the damn plane. And it’s a darn good thing we have the master programmer on board to disable this A.I. because nobody else could’ve jammed it with a screwdriver except the master programmer. And could Casper Van Dien look like he was any less attracted to Nicole Eggert? He was more in tune with Brad Dourif than the woman who was playing his wife.

If this plane crashed into Cleveland, over a half million lives are at stake. How a crashing 747 could take out a whole city is beyond me, but this is where the screenwriters should’ve put some nukes on the plane. Yes, that makes no damn sense, but is sense making really important at this point? Which is why I would’ve put a ninja-terrorist on the plane too. That would’ve been sweet.

All I’m saying is if one is making a low budget disaster movie with Casper Van Dien in it, then you might as well go for broke. It’s already stupid and ridiculous from page one, might as well push the stupidity as far as it can conceivably go, as opposed to making it a standard Airline Disaster movie. Nobody wants to see that, not really. We do appreciate Mr. Olen-Ray and his attention to detail in placing as many hot women as conceivably possible in his films, all with plunging necklines, but what ‘Turbulent Skies’ really needed was less family melodrama, maybe a tad less Patrick Muldoon, and more ninjas.

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