Skybound is a claustrophobic thriller set almost entirely on board an aeroplane. The film sees a group of young, attractive people take off on a private flight from New York to L.A. They’re soon hit by some sort of electrical surge, knocking out various pieces of vital equipment and preventing them from being able to land. To make matters worse, a mysterious - possibly apocalyptic - event seems to be taking place on the ground. Oh, and there’s a sinister, gun-toting stowaway found in the cargo hold who seems to know more than he’s letting on.
Honestly, it’s a great premise that could have made for a very compelling movie. Sadly, Skybound squanders its potential on a cast of characters that are, quite possibly – and I say this with no hyperbole - the stupidest ensemble I have ever seen in a film. It’s difficult to care about characters who spend a prolonged sequence looking through yesterday’s newspapers for hints at what might have happened, only to be reminded that one of them has a phone when someone calls them several scenes later.
On its own, that would be a minor quibble, but its emblematic of the film’s writing in general. Once the phone’s battery runs out, that’s it. Not only is no attempt made to charge the phone, but none of the characters even acknowledge the possibility. Later on, we’re supposed to be impressed when a character displays a previously hidden talent for mathematics… they can multiply by seven. To be fair, by that point in the film it actually is quite impressive, if only because you’ve started to question if the characters you’re watching – two of whom are pilots, by the way – can even read.
This might not have been so much of a problem if the script was generally a bit better. A little humour and self-awareness would have gone a long way, but instead of opting to flesh the characters out or let us experience their plight on a more human level, the script is simply wall-to-wall exposition and the actors simply aren’t good enough to sell it as something containing emotional stakes. In fact, with the exception of Morten Suurballe, the acting is universally embarrassing.
The production obviously has a relatively low budget, so all things considered, it’s a remarkably glossy affair with fairly impressive special effects. A handful of sequences, such as one (visible in the trailer) where the flight passes over a herd of flaming bison running through the fiery hell-scape that used to be Utah, are, visually, quite inventive and memorable.
Skybound is a cinematic flight of fancy. It’s certainly full of twists and turns and, at 82 minutes, it never has a chance to outstay its welcome, but in many ways, it never quite manages to get off the ground.
SKYBOUND / CERT: TBC / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: ALEX TAVAKOLI / STARRING: SCARLETT BYRNE, GAVIN STENHOUSE, RICK COSNETT / RELEASE DATE: TBC