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.