Ground Control (film)
DVD cover art
|Directed by||Richard Howard|
|Produced by||Peter Block
Daryl De Quetteville
|Screenplay by||Mark Shepard
|Story by||Talaat Captan
Robert Sean Leonard
|Music by||Randy Miller|
|Edited by||Edward R. Abroms|
Hard Work Productions
Ground Control is a 1998 disaster thriller film directed by Richard Howard and starring Kiefer Sutherland, Bruce McGill, Kristy Swanson, and Robert Sean Leonard. The film features a cameo by former baseball player Steve Sax in the role of an airline co-pilot.
Chicago air traffic controller Jack Harris (Kiefer Sutherland) was cleared of liability for an ill-fated flight under his authority, such that resulted in the loss of all 174 souls aboard. He subsequently left the job and went on to design air control software, until five years later when T.C. Bryant (Bruce McGill), his ex-colleague who had since transferred to Phoenix, pleads for help on New Year's Eve due to a critical staff shortage and with torrential weather predicted. His return to the control room is met with warmth and disdain, particularly when he experiences flashbacks of the historic incident. The atmosphere rapidly becomes much more serious as the storm approaches and with the control tower suffering power cuts, the team is forced into manually directing busy air traffic through severe turbulence.
- Kiefer Sutherland as Jack Harris
- Bruce McGill as T.C. Bryant
- Kristy Swanson as Julie Albrecht
- Robert Sean Leonard as Cruise
- Kelly McGillis as Susan Stratton
- Margaret Cho as Amanda
- Charles Fleischer as Randy
- Henry Winkler as John Quinn
- Farrah Forke as Laura Franklin
- Michael Gross as Murray
- Jack Plotnick as Curtis
- Brian George as Shamaal
- John Bennett Perry as Senator Rutherford
- Eleanor Mondale as Christine
- Alex Wexo as Flight 393 Pilot
- John Nielsen as Pissed Off Pilot
- Steve Sax as Co-Pilot, Flight 47
- Ruben Paul as Sam
- Vito D'Ambrosio as Weather Analyst
The primary cast of Kiefer Sutherland, Kelly McGillis and Robert Sean Leonard was announced in late 1997. Filming had begun at LAX, but after shooting permits were rescinded, producer Talaat Captan finished the film using locations at Ontario International Airport in San Bernardino County, California.
The film had its theatrical premiere on August 26, 1998 in Italy as Rischio d'impatto, followed by video releases in 1999 in the United States as Jet and in Iceland as Lennonjohto, and in 2000 as Kollisionskurs - Panik im Tower in Germany and Ground Control in Spain. It had its United Kingdom television premiere as Ground Control in December 2003 on PAX, and in the United States in December 2005.
Nathan Rabin of AV Club compared the film favorably against a similar film Pushing Tin, calling it "easily the second-best film about air-traffic controllers to be released over the past few months", but included that the film was a "competent, unremarkable disaster movie." They noted that the film's characters were "one-dimensional" and that the dialogue was bland and the plot predictable, but that the film was "nevertheless effective".
The Movie Scene made reference to Kiefer Sutherland's role in the television series 24, by writing "even Jack Bauer couldn't rescue this". They noted that the film suffered from a tight budget and limited locations and scenery that were "unbelievably fake", and that the film's use of quick cut-aways made the storyline seem disjointed. They offered however, that once viewers got past those deficits, the use of poor sets was "actually quite amusing" and added to the film's "quirky charm". The reviewer was surprised that the "quite impressive names" that made up the cast list were relegated mostly to minor roles and that the film spent "all its time focusing on Kiefer Sutherland". The greatest problems of the film were seen in its weak plot and poor dialogue, but this could have been averted had the supporting characters been given more depth. Apart from Sutherland, the only major name in the film who managed to give impact was Henry Winkler in his role as airport engineer John Quinn. The reviewer concluded that despite the film's obvious problems and predictability, it had a "certain amount of low budget charm," and that "even the cheesiness of the plot and fake special effects doesn't totally spoil this film and at times it makes even the more enjoyable."
TV Guide wrote that the film's characterizations were "strait-laced and noble" and the film "could have been commissioned by the Air Traffic Controllers' Benevolent Association." They made note of the film's story and plotline being derivative, its "threadbare production values" and "artless" special effects and its use of "stock characters", but offered that despite those weaknesses, the film "does manage to whip up a little suspense".
- Rabin, Nathan Rabin (March 29, 2002). "review: Ground Control". AV Club. Retrieved February 9, 2012.
- Bryant, T.C. "DVD review: Ground Control (1998)". The Movie Scene. Retrieved February 9, 2012.
- Hindes, Andrew (November 12, 1997). "Trio set for Green's 'Ground Control'". Variety. Retrieved February 9, 2012.
- Craddock, Jim (2005). Videohound's Golden Movie Retriever 2005. Thomson/Gale. p. 354. ISBN 0-7876-7470-2.
- Pratt, Doug (2000). Doug Pratt's DVD-Video Guide. Harbor Electronic Publishing. p. 170. ISBN 0-9669744-4-1.
- Pardi, Robert. "Ground Control: Review". TV Guide. Retrieved February 9, 2012.
- "Sax Stays Close to the Game he Loves, All-Star is 'Really Loving' TV gig" (PAY-PER-VIEW). The Sacramento Bee. August 24, 1998. Retrieved February 9, 2012.
- "Position on D.H. Remains Split" (PAY-PER-VIEW). San Jose Mercury News. April 19, 1998. Retrieved February 9, 2012.
- Hodgkinson, Mike (October 12, 2003). "WORKING HOLLYWOOD; Your choice: plane or fancy" (PAY-PER-VIEW). Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 9, 2012.
- "Saturday". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. October 13, 2003. Retrieved February 9, 2012.
- Kejonen, Pentti (March 31, 2011). "review: Ground Control". Kaleva (in Finnish). Retrieved February 9, 2012.
- Rotten Tomatoes - Review of Ground Control
- The Movie Scene [Andy Webb]
- A review by Nathan Rabin March 29, 2002