Patricia Kalember toplines as a nurse in Grand Junction, Colo. Immediately after she and paramedic partner Brad (David Charvet) complete one emergency flight and return, fatigued and grateful, to their homes and families, they must get back in the air to shepherd a sick 2-year-old girl to Denver for surgery. Joining them is the girl's father (Christopher Atkins), a youth minister who clashes with the nonbeliever Brad.

Patricia Kalember toplines as a nurse in Grand Junction, Colo. Immediately after she and paramedic partner Brad (David Charvet) complete one emergency flight and return, fatigued and grateful, to their homes and families, they must get back in the air to shepherd a sick 2-year-old girl to Denver for surgery. Joining them is the girl’s father (Christopher Atkins), a youth minister who clashes with the nonbeliever Brad.

We know from the get-go that the plane will not make it to Denver, and telepic is mainly concerned with the mechanics of survival after the air ambulance loses an engine. But in this regard, pic lacks a grittiness that may have lent the story more power.

Garwin Sanford has a memorable turn as the pilot grappling with “zero options.” Pleading “Give me a place!” he bravely crash-lands the plane in a snowy clearing in the Rockies and suffers the most serious injuries of anyone on board. Michael Slovis’ photography captures the bitter cold that threatens the four adults and the sick girl (Paige Magnusson) as they try to stay warm — and sane.

The patient, knowing nurse is a typical role for Kalember, and she breaks no new ground. None of the actors do; as their characters fight to stay alive, they struggle with explication-laden dialogue that feels forced rather than expressive.

Michael Petryni’s script heavy-handedly attaches “human” issues to the basic live-or-die scenario: the worries and expectations of the two medical workers’ families, the conflict over faith between the paramedic and the minister.

Director Charles Wilkinson draws no inner fire from these characters, and music by Cory Lerios and John d’Andrea tries in vain to drum up suspense where the script cannot. Viewers will find few surprises in “Angel Flight Down,” but those entertained by simple stories of catastrophe and triumph may want to get on board.

Angel Flight Down

Production

Angel Flight Down (Mon. (29), 9-11 p.m., ABC) Filmed in Calgary, Alberta, by Carla Singer Prods. in association with World Intl. Network. Executive producer, Carla Singer; co-executive producers, Bob Banner, Norton Wright, Richard C. Berman; producer, Joan Carson; co-producers, Deborah Morris, Norvell Rose; director, Charles Wilkinson; writer, Michael Petryni.

Crew

Camera, Michael Slovis; editor, Lenka Svab; production designer, Rick Roberts; sound, Ron (Omar) Oslowy; special effects/aerials, Jim Fisher; music, Cory Lerios, John d'Andrea; casting, Ellen Meyer, Bette Chadwick (Calgary).

With

Cast: Patricia Kalember, David Charvet, Christopher Atkins, Garwin Sanford, Stephen E. Miller, Donna Larson, Paige Magnusson, Gary Graham, Deanna Milligan, Donna Belleville, Jesse Moss, Rod Padmos, Paul Coeur, Maureen Thomas, Daniel Busheikin, Judith Buchan, Nirmala Naidoo-Hill, Ed Washington, Larry Reese, Andy Maton, Duval Lang, Brenda Shuttleworth, Terry Lawrence, Christopher Hunt, Ron Carothers, Michele Fansett, Daniel Libman. Fact-based telepic about the crash landing of an emergency medical plane never attains the necessary dramatic altitude to take it beyond the predictable. Attempting to convey a noble saga of heroism, "Angel Flight Down" is undone by the story's hackneyed elements.
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