Skybound

There is a rare breed of film that manages to be ultimately and severely contrived at the same time spectacularly jumping shark after shark in order to reach its climax, and Skybound is exactly that kind of movie. The debut feature of Alex Tavakoli, a Viennese architect and civil engineer, manages to tick every box one could come to expect from a thriller whose main cast is confined to an airplane. However, it also manages to be such an unintentional laugh riot that it ends up serving a purpose far different than what the original filmmakers intended.

“If it had been a satire, it might have been one of the best of its kind.”

Matt (Rick Cosnett) and Kyle (Gavin Stenhouse) are a pair of well-to-do brothers taking their friends Odin (Tyler Fayose), Roxy (Carla Carolina Pimentel), and Lisa (Scarlett Byrne) on a three-day excursion to Los Angeles for brief vacation. Traveling in style on a private jet, they soon discover a mysterious stowaway named Erik (Morten Suurballe) after their guidance systems and outside communication fail, thus making each passing moment more terrifying than the last as they are unable to land due to a mysterious disaster on the ground. Though at least, this is what the film is in theory, when in actuality it is something that almost defies conventional explanation. Not because the film is an unconventional story, but that the ways in which the film spectacularly fails essentially makes it enjoyable.

Technically quite competent, and possessing some glossy and (at-times) stunning cinematography by Pana Costoglou; the presentation compliments the spectacle of the movie’s premise. And though this is also accented by well-rounded digital and practical effects, compiled with taut editing by Marc Steinicke, that is pretty much where the intended portions of the film end. There is hardly a line spoken throughout the brief 82-minute runtime that doesn’t come with an easily afforded eyeroll. The intensity in which it relies on cliches almost had me believing it was a satire before I realized the film was taking itself far too seriously. This is mostly prominent in how all of the characters have the the exact skills and knowledge each bend of the story requires to conveniently and swiftly resolve major problems ranging from gunshot wounds to the removing one of the plane’s engines.

“There is hardly a line spoken…that doesn’t come with an easily afforded eyeroll.”

There wasn’t honestly a moment in this film that held much suspense, to where instances that were devastating and detrimental to the characters had me roaring with laughter. It does not help that the whole cast, especially Cosnett and Pimentel, were acting if dosed on large quantities of valium. The overwhelming underacting is very reminiscent of Thora Birch in Dungeons and Dragons (2000), where the combined lack of conviction undoes whatever drama that is drummed up otherwise. All of this culminates in one of the most ham-fisted inspirational monologues that I have had the pleasure to witness, made all the more silly by Andrew Reich’s less-than-subtle score being repeatedly shoved down our throats.

If it had been a satire, it might have been one of the best of its kind. However, Skybound only entertains as fodder rather than thriller and will disappoint those who are looking for a serious experience.

Skybound (2017) Directed by: Alex Tavakoli. Written by: Alex Tavakoli. Starring: Scarlett Byrne, Gavin Stenhouse, Rick Cosnett, Morten Suurballe, Tyler Fayose, Carla Carolina Pimentel.

★★ / ☆☆☆☆☆

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