Bullet Points: Altitude (2017)
When I first heard about Altitude, the first thought that popped in my head was “Another Dolph Lundgren movie?”. I know Dolph is a busy man, there have even been exaggerated reports that he is in 78 movies each year. Dolph Lundgren is one of the main characters in Altitude, but Altitude is not a Dolph Lundgren movie… it is a Denise Richards movie.
Richards career was white hot in the late 1990’s with a string of movies that included sci-fi favorite Starship Troopers, the erotic thriller Wild Things and the James Bond flick The World Is Not Enough. In recent years, Richards acting career has continued on the small screen in a variety of television shows and made for TV movies.
But here we are in 2017 and Denise Richards is back in action…
- 1-900-FBI-SEXX: Gretchen Blair (Denise Richards) is a hostage negotiator for the Federal Bureau of Investigation. As the movie begins we see Richards in action, talking to a man who has taken several people hostage at a treasury building. Denise’s negotiating style is borderline phone sex, as she flirts with the divorced sad sack who went off the deep end and went to the extreme in order to clear up a tax return snafu. Gretchen is positive she can talk the man down and relieve the situation without bloodshed… her superior on the other hand is preparing to have a sniper take out the emotionally unstable man as he is making dinner plans with Gretchen on the phone. Gretchen’s compassion takes over and she storms into the building and prevents the man from being shot and takes him into custody. This pisses off Gretchen’s boss to no end, he immediately has her removed from field work and she is sent packing to Washington D.C. where she will finish out her career riding a desk.
- The Unfriendly Skies: Things continue to go down hill for Gretchen when she boards her flight to D.C. There is a snack eating fat ass in her window seat, who refuses to get up. Gretchen wants the damn seat she paid for and reads fatty the riot act, even threatening to shove his cat T-shirt somewhere unpleasant before one of the flight attendants to see what the commotion is all about. Now you might think at this point Gretchen would be dragged out of the plane for her outburst, but instead the flight attendant rewards Gretchen’s verbal vitriol by upgrading her to business class. It is in her plush new seating assignment that Gretchen meets a charming man by the name of Terry (Kirk Barker). Terry and Gretchen make small talk for a bit, he even invites her to join him in Paris… but things change quickly when Sharpe (Dolph Lundgren) boards the plane a few rows ahead of the newly minted friends. Terry’s demeanor does a 180. The confident charmer is now scared shitless, he informs Gretchen that there is going to be an incident on this plane and offers her $50 million to help him. Gretchen humors him at first, but when he continues with his panic inducing story Gretchen shuts him down, warning him that she will have to report his behavior. But it isn’t long before she realizes the unbelievable things Terry was spewing, was in fact the truth. Finding a dead flight attendant in a storage compartment will do that.
- There Is No Honor Among Thieves: Sharpe was a “business associate” of Terry’s in the past. Sharpe and Terry’s ex, Sadie, who had gotten on the flight disguised as one of the flight attendants, are after Terry because he stole some diamonds from them in a classic criminal double cross and they want them back… Before I go on, I want to point out that the Sadie character played by Greer Grammer was a real scene stealer. She was extremely good at playing a woman who was extremely bad… Sharpe hatched a diabolical plan to retrieve the diamonds, eliminate Terry and create the perfect alibi so the authorities would not even come looking for him when it was all said and done. Terry even points out that it is a comic book villain level plan and it was… but one thing Sharpe was not planning on was FBI Agent Gretchen “Freaking” Blair!
Altitude was a well paced 88 minutes. Borrowing some of the “Die Hard on a plane” elements from Air Force One and pairing those with known action movie commodities like Denise Richards and Dolph Lundgren was a winning formula. Throw in the strong performances from Greer Grammer and Kirk Barker and Altitude proved to be an enjoyable movie watching experience with little turbulence.
And it is the point in our flight where I come down the aisle with some complimentary Bonus Bullet Points…
- Familiar Faces: Chuck Liddell played Rawbones, one of Sharpe’s goons who was on board the flight posing as a passenger. Liddell has worked with Dolph Lundgren before in 2015’s Riot and War Pigs. Chuck’s believability factor in his role as someone to fear is 500%.. Character actor John Posey plays the pilot. Posey is a guy, you have undoubtedly seen before in movies, television shows or even commercials but have no idea what his name is. John Posey will reunite with Dolph in the upcoming Black Water… And last but not least, the flamboyantly annoying flight attendant named Rick was played by none other than Jonathan Lipnicki of Jerry Maguire fame.
- Best Quote: “You need to adjust your altitude bitch!” – Gretchen Blair
- Classic Moment: The scene where Sharpe has taken control of the plane while “Flight of the Valkyries” is playing is absolutely majestic.
- Where Everybody Knows Your Name: Greer Grammer is the daughter of Kelsey Grammer, who is most famous for playing Dr. Frasier Crane on Cheers and then on the spin-off Frasier.
- Fake ID: At one point we see Sharpe’s fake passport and the picture used is actually Dolph Lundgren’s IMDb profile pic.