| August 2, 2012

The action film narrative is such a tried-and-true commodity that it is almost impossible to screw up.  For all of the times that action films have left us wanting better acting, more polished cinematography, more imaginative plotting, at least they lived up to our expectations as “action movies.”  At least they got that part right.  Hijacked is that rare action movie didn’t even get that part right.

Starring UFC Hall of Famer Randy Couture as a “special agent” hunting a “secret criminal organization” known as The Tribe (of course at the expense of a serious relationship that will inevitably be redeemed over the course of the adrenaline-fueled events to come), Hijacked offers absolutely nothing new as far as plotting is concerned.  Then again, many action movie fans, especially those seeking out B-actioners such as Hijacked, are not so greedy as to be asking for Inception-level imagination.  “The old made new” is more than enough, but all Hijacked has to offer is “the old made really bad.”

The plot concerns Couture’s efforts to protect a rich billionaire (Craig Fairbrass, who provides one of the only bright spots of the film) aboard his enormous luxury airliner (Air Force One this film is not) as three terrorists seize control and demand 2.73 billion dollars (Die Hard this film is not), the exact amount of money he is capable of liquidating (I bet you can already guess the “twist”). With a UFC legend as the star and resident bad ass, one would likely assume that, for any and all flaws, the action scenes would at least be serviceable if not on par with A-list blockbusters, but perhaps saddest of all, were Couture not advertised as the decorated mixed martial artist that he is, a moviegoer watching his fight scenes in Hijacked would likely be unable to even guess he had real training, much less that he was one of the all-time great combatants in the history of MMA.  Never exactly renowned for his striking prowess or his guard game, Couture showed better skills against the dangerous strikers and grapplers of the MMA world than he did against Holt McCallany in their staged movie battle.  In both of his fight scenes, Couture’s opponents get the better of him and he has to have first his girlfriend and then his injured partner come to his rescue.  I won’t even hazard a guess as to how that sells the real-life bad ass thing they had going for them with the casting of a Hall of Fame mixed martial artist.

Hijacked is neither for film fans nor even hardcore action fans.  The only people to find any redeeming value in a film as poorly made as this are those die-hard MMA fans who get a kick out of seeing legends of the sport finally getting a paycheck only for pretending to put their bodies on the line for our entertainment.  And credit to Couture, should he ever find himself in the position of having a decent script and a knowledgeable action director, he could provide Steven Seagal and Stone Cold Steve Austin with some solid company in the arena of low-budget action cinema.  He’ll just need to be a shrewder judge of material in the future.

About the Author:

Kyle Barrowman is a graduate of the Cinema Studies program at Columbia College in Chicago. In addition to his work for Film Monthly, he has previously published essays for Cashiers du Cinemart, Offscreen, and The International Journal of Žižek Studies, on subjects ranging from film noir to Alfred Hitchcock, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Bruce Lee.
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