Existential epic

Rated 3.0

As much an update as a remake, this new version of Robert Aldrich’s 1965 adventure film about the resurrection of a crashed plane in the Gobi desert has a sturdy and agreeably old-fashioned feel to it.

With Dennis Quaid and Giovanni Ribisi playing roles originated by Jimmy Stewart and Hardy Kruger, John Moore’s version is comparatively lacking in star power, but action and drama alike are very effectively staged, and the international supporting cast, mostly unknowns, serves ably throughout. The story is little changed apart from nods to racial and gender diversity—two of the characters are African American this time, and there’s a woman (Miranda Otto) in a key secondary role, more than holding her own.

Although the updating does not extend to contemporary international crises (the film’s Arab marauders might as well be living in the 19th century), Moore and company do admirable work in recapturing a kind of quasi-existentialist action epic that Hollywood was just beginning to comprehend in 1965 and would soon enough forget.