Austin Film Festival Review: The Skyjacker


Director:Jeff Pickett

Cast:Jeff Pickett, Lizzy Davis, Joan Alperin, Joe Willand

Running Time:70.00


One day, a lonely man derived a plan: hijack a plane, demand a ransom, and disappear forever. On Christmas Eve 1970, D.B. Cooper followed through with this plan, creating the most mysterious domestic hijacking to ever hit the US skylines. Carrying a mundane, almost stage-play like approach, Jeff Pickett's The Skyjacker is a clever look at how drastic America's dealing with hijackers has changed over the last 38 years.

As for the overall flow of the story, it was a complete nightmare. Carrying the feel and look of a stage play, I respected the film from the onset. However, The Skyjacker failed to use its presentation to its advantage; instead, it loses its audience in the shuffle of poor camera angles, unneeded close ups and an all too serene approach. Where is the threat? And where is the panic? Sure it is suppose to be 1970, but still, there needs to be something brewing.

As far as the acting, it was a surprisingly strong suit for the film. Often trading his spot behind the camera for one in-front, director Jeff Pickett also serves as the film's leading star, playing Walter, the plain's infamous hijacker. And though he does a decent job at balancing his two roles, it is his work with co-star Lizzy Davis that earns the most praise. Carrying a sense of urgency, Pickett is able to create an underlining intensity that is rarely seen in theatrical cinema. His motions, his mood and his delivery all come from a man who is in a state of perplexity. He is in unfamiliar territory and it shows.

Serving as the focal female in a film that features only two constant characters, Lizzy Davis works hard to create Donna, a flight attendant who serves as the lone communication link between Walter and the pilots. Her role in the film is detrimental to its overall success, and while she didn't give a phenomenal performance, she gave one that keeps with the film's low-key mood; a high mark in my book.

Her ability to bring a young, innocent girl to the picture, capture the mood and essence of the story, and feed it to the audience through miniscule moments of pure discomfort is a feat worth applauding. And as she continues to feed Walter cigarettes, liquor and a bit of flirtation, you can't help but respect her work as an actress as she fully consumers her lonely character, bringing her to life in the most dire of situations.

Together, the two stars work surprisingly well together as they create one awkward situation after the next, never really reaching a sense of comfort. And whether it was intentional or just an oil and water mixture of chemistry, for this film, it fortunately works flawlessly.

In the end, The Skyjacker is the perfect representation of a low budget, indie film. And while the acting was strong, I fear that its strength is ill-perceived based on its other qualities. The story is slow and bland, the direction elementary, and the ending a bit too anti-climatic; all of which come together to drag down this potential indie-hotshot, taking it to a place of mediocrity.


About Stephen Davis

Stephen Davis
I owe this hobby/career to the one and only Stephanie Peterman who, while interning at Fox, told me that I had too many opinions and irrelevant information to keep it all bottled up inside. I survived my first rated R film, Alive, at the ripe age of 8, it took me months to grasp the fact that Julia Roberts actually died at the end of Steel Magnolias, and I might be the only person alive who actually enjoyed Sorority Row…for its comedic value of course. While my friends can drink you under the table, I can outwatch you when it comes iconic, yet horrid 80s films like Adventures in Babysitting and Troop Beverly Hills. I have no shame when it comes to what I like, and if you have a problem with that, then we’ll settle it on the racquetball court. I see too many movies to actually win any film trivia contest, so don’t waste your first pick on me. My friends rent movies from my bookcase shelves, and one day I do plan to start charging. I long to live in LA, where my movie obsession will actually help me fit in, but for now I am content with my home in Austin. I prefer indies to blockbusters, Longhorns to Sooners and Halloween to Friday the 13th. I miss the classics, as well as John Ritter, and I hope to one day sit down and interview the amazing Kate Winslet.

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