“Fasten your seat belts we are ready for takeoff”. How many times have airline passengers heard that announcement? Do passengers consider what dialogue they do not hear? Do they think about the dialogue between the pilot, co-pilot and the air traffic controller especially when things go south? Charlie Victor Romeo (playing at the New Frontier section of the Sundance Film Festival 2013) recreates actual airline cockpit dialogue from six actual flights that crashed.
Shot in 3-D and based on production sketches, Charlie Victor Romeo offers genuine spine tingling moments in airlines fights that ended up crashing. Co-directors Robert Berger and Karlyn Michelson bring tension to each of the six distressed airline situations with a minimalist set, a rotation of actors and stealth editing.
Definitely an experimental film, Charlie Victor Romeo shows raw and nerve wracking airline flight situations yet the film suffers from a “sketch” aspect. The film often plays like a serious Saturday Night Live skit or something from the fringe festival.
The segment times for each flight situation range from a few minutes to over ten minutes. The longer scenes, although intriguing often get bogged down with so much repetitive “airline dialogue” that some of the emotion gets lost. In several scenes the co-pilot talks about wind sheer a dozen times in the film but those not familiar with cockpit lingo may be somewhat befuddled. It’s challenging to determine a pilot’s goal without knowing what is being said. No doubt, the directors have a tough chore to balance stressful realism with so much jargon.
The film definitely offers a peak in to the stress and raw emotion that airlines pilots face. It offers a unique approach to bring the audience into the dark part of the friendly skies. Unfortunately like many of the airline flights recreated I the film, the film suggests from its sketch like structure and loses power in key situations.