Jack Bender is a former FBI hostage negotiator who is caught on a plane currently being hijacked by a white supremacist cult member named Greg Gilliad. Bender must find a bomb aboard the plane and thwart the hijacker’s plans before his own military shoots the plane out of the sky.
The movie opens with a Waco style siege as ATA agents surround a compound in Provo, Utah. They immediately decide they can’t handle this alone and call in the FBI! The FBI shows up with hostage negotiator Jack Bender in tow. Bender is portrayed by Dean Cain and that should tell you all you need to know about this movie.
Final Approach is a Hallmark Channel made for television movie starring Cain as the former FBI agent and Anthony Michael Hall (Televisions’ The Dead Zone) as a terrorist who takes an airplane headed for Los Angeles hostage with the threat of a nuclear attack. It also stars William Forsythe (Stone Cold), Ernie Hudson (The Crow), Lea Thompson (Back to the Future), Tracey Gold (Growing Pains), and Sunny Mabrey (Snakes on a Plane). This is a low budget B-movie superstar extravaganza at its best.
Bender attempts to end the Waco style siege without any casualties by entering the complex disguised as a medic. He tries to talk the leader of the cult, Silas Jansen (Forsythe), into letting the women and children go. Before he can achieve this goal, another agent (Ernie Hudson) goes behind his back and orders a full scale attack, causing the unnecessary deaths of a number of people. Silus is captured and charged with the deaths of these people and Bender, angered by the attack, punches the agent and quits.
Cut to present day. Bender is unable to find a job because he punched out an FBI agent. Meanwhile the cult, The Freedom First Separatist Movement, sets up an elaborate plan where they plan to hijack an airplane. Bender happens to be aboard this flight after another failed job interview. The terrorists have somehow snuck a bomb aboard the plane and are interested in specific passengers, including a U.S. senator and two high ranking global banking officials. While the original demands are for the release of Silus from prison, there is more to the plans than originally believed.
The movie takes a quick look at ethnic discrimination in a couple of ways. The first is the church, a racist cult who believes the problem with the world today is racial integration into society. However, it is not only the bad guys who are racially insensitive in this movie. The U.S. Senator aboard the plane states in an interview before he boards that the airways would be safer if the illegal immigrant problem was taken care of. When the man who takes the plane hostage turns out to be white former marine Greg Gilliad, it turns his views on end.
This movie would have been a fun B-Movie straight to video thriller. In much the ways that Jean Claude Van Damme, Steven Seagal, Dolph Lundgren and Wesley Snipes put out enjoyable popcorn fluff action flicks all the time that garners their share of fans, Dean Cain is building the same type of career. While Cain will never be the bad ass that Seagal or Snipes can be, he works well as an everyman hero in the Bruce Willis form. As a matter of fact, this movie is very similar to Die Hard 2 when you think about it, just with cheap effects and a very low budget.
While the markings were here for a great B-movie flick, the biggest problem is the best action flicks check in between 80-100 minutes in length. This movie clocks in at 2:49. That is almost three hours for a B-movie and is just ridiculous. I’m not saying it isn’t entertaining if you like this sort of film and from the looks of the 544 page B Action Movie Thread on our message boards there are a lot of fans. However, the fact of the matter is the basic premise of these movies is the ridiculous nature of the scripts. This one is no different but at three hours there is just too much.
The acting is solid, with Cain and Hall as standouts and the direction is crisp and always helps the movie remain interesting. The very ending is horrid though, bearing all the markings of a Hallmark exclusive. It really dragged down the end of the already overlong film. It’s fun and both Cain and Hall make it better than it has any right to be, but it needed at least an hour knocked off the total running time to really be recommended.
Prepare for Final Approach: An Interview with Anthony Michael Hall (05:31) is a discussion about the film, and his career. He speaks about his admiration of Ben Kingsly and how the veteran actor bounces between good guys and bad guys throughout his career. It was a nice, short interview with a very well spoken actor. Fasten Your Seatbelt (06:41) is another interview segment going behind the scenes with Dean Cain and Lea Thompson. It is a nice piece but not as interesting as the Hall interview.