97 Minutes


$17.99 DVD, $19.99 Blu-ray;
Not rated.
Stars Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Alec Baldwin, MyAnna Buring, Jo Martin, Michael Sirow, Pavan Grover, Anjul Nigam, Jake Hayes, Slavko Slobin, Kasia Koleczek.

Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Alec Baldwin head an otherwise no-star cast in a direct-to-video thriller being hyped as a “ticking clock scenario” even though the film’s running time is four minutes shy of the title. (97 Minutes refers to the amount of time hijacked flight 420 from Heathrow to JFK International has before running out of fuel.) A computer-generated aerial view of the Atlantic Ocean is the first thing we see before swooping down on a passenger airliner and gradually slinking across the fuselage playing Peeping Tom through the cabin windows. This all technique, no nuance approach has the same effect as chucking a monkey wrench in a 767 engine. A simple hijacking would be out of fashion by today’s wantonly adrenalized standards. Before the title hits the screen a flight attendant, air marshal, and the pilot are all dispatched with single, fatal, digital bullets. Banking on audiences’ built-in familiarity with the genre, writer/producer/co-star Pavan Grover and director Timo Vuorensola forgo character formalities, cook up a clever third act twist, and proceed to work backward with no cliche left deterred.

The tropes just keep on ticking. The five hijackers are incendiary, standing order Russkies, none of whom are particularly distinguishable save the mercenary troupe’s one female planenapper. Alex: Code Name Steak-Knife (Meyers) is the de rigueur inside man, a deep cover government operative free to move about the cabin. First things first: disengage the failsafe switch so neither terrorist pilot nor Director Hawkins’ (Baldwin) underlings at National Security Headquarters can commandeer the plane. Pilot Gill’s (Danny Bohnen) young but wise beyond his years son Sam is quick to catch on to the skyjacker’s game. Aware of the insurgent eavesdropping around the corner, Sam asks Interpol agent Alex how long he’s been a terrorist. He should have questioned his reasoning behind using the cabin as a shooting gallery. A stray bullet that pierces the hull causes a dip in cabin pressure. Is there a doctor on the flight manifest? Before departing to that big terminal in the sky, Gill must be medically revived just long enough to bring Alex up to speed on how to remedy a loss of cabin pressure. Sam blames Alex for killing his father in a brief yet most melodramatic fashion. It also helps to have a doc on board when wound up Alex resorts to that old stress-relieving standby, punching out a lavatory mirror. Unnecessary backstory abounds while Dr. Kim (MyAnna Buring) nurses Alex’s hand. In the big, histrionical poker game that is life, Alex sees Dr. Kim’s accidental murder of a patient and raises her one dead 7-year-old son.

A little more than three months after the accidental shooting of Halyna Hutchins on the set of Rust, Baldwin was in Aton, Hampshire beginning work on 97 Minutes. For his part, Baldwin barks orders through folded arms. One of the few character traits assigned to the terminally tuned-out Hawkins is a forced, continuous referral to aircraft as “birds.” The filming lasted 18 days, on which Baldwin probably spent four or five. His ability to deliver made-for-TV dialogue — “Some innocent people are going to die so that more innocent people will live” — while at the same time keeping his eyes from rolling back in his head is a testament to the actor’s inability to break character. Why did Baldwin opt for a gun crazy actioner over a comedy or romance for his first feature following the Rust tragedy? (At one point Alex details how any schmo with a 3D printer could construct a homemade gun with a two-bullet capacity.) Connected to the project for 18 months, Baldwin’s character was a custom build. There is a surprise twist about two-thirds of the way through that you won’t see coming, but who cares? Good films shock and amaze at every turn, not simply build to one twist before calling it a day. In that sense, 97 Minutes feels like three hours.

Thriller ‘Disquiet’ Available Digitally Feb. 10

The supernatural thriller Disquiet will be released in theaters and via on demand and digital Feb. 10 from Paramount Home Entertainment and SP Media Group.

In the film, after a near-fatal car accident, Sam (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) wakes to discover he is trapped in an abandoned hospital by mysterious and sinister forces that have no intention of letting him leave.

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The film also stars Rachelle Goulding, Elyse Levesque, Lochlyn Munro, Garry Chalk, Trezzo Mahoro, Anita Brown and Bradley Stryker.


Paramount Sets Jan. 18 DVD Release Date for ‘Hide and Seek’

Paramount Home Entertainment has set a Jan. 18 DVD release date for Hide and Seek, a thriller starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers.

The film is currently playing in select theaters and is also available through digital retailers and on demand.

Directed by Joel David Moore, who also wrote the screenplay, Hide and Seek also stars Jacinda Barrett, Sue Jean Kim, Mustafa Shakir and Joe Pantoliano.

The ‘R’-rated film stars Meyers as Noah, who after the death of his wealthy father seeks his outcast brother to make amends and share the family fortune. But the family harbors a dark secret and a series of cryptic clues will lead Noah on a terrifying trail to the truth that threatens to tear him apart from the ones he loves the most.

Thriller ‘American Night’ Available on Blu-ray and DVD Nov. 23

The thriller American Night arrives on Blu-ray (plus digital) and DVD Nov. 23 from Lionsgate.

The film stars Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Emile Hirsch, Paz Vega, Jeremy Piven and pop star Anastacia.

In the film, when a highly coveted Andy Warhol painting suddenly surfaces, it triggers a chain reaction of danger-filled events for a colorful group of characters, including a forger turned art dealer (Rhys Meyers), a mobster and painter (Hirsch) with a penchant for scorpions, a seductive museum conservator (Vega), and a stuntman and wannabe ninja (Piven).

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Thriller ‘Awake’ Heading to Disc Sept. 24

Cinedigm will release the thriller Awake on Blu-ray and DVD Sept. 24.

Jonathan Rhys Meyers stars as a man who wakes up in a hospital bed with no recollection of who he is or how he got there. His nurse Diana (Francesca Eastwood) is unable to find any identification and refers to him as John Doe.

The police barge into the hospital, accusing him of being a serial killer responsible for the murder of several young women in the area.

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John Doe manages to escape with the help of Diana, who is convinced of his innocence. The fugitives then set off for the last crime scene in search of clues and answers to clear his name but uncover a shocking truth behind his identity.