There is a strange and mysterious place called “The Motions,” through which many of us pass, but where nobody seems to live. The action thriller Hijacked takes about 90 minutes to go through The Motions, and it’s not a particularly scenic journey. It’s a by the numbers, personality-free motion picture that doesn’t have enough wherewithal to bring a little mix tape or play a round of “Slug Bug.” It just goes through the motions, and it sure as hell takes its sweet time about it.
Expendables 2 teammate Randy Couture stars as Special Agent Paul Ross, whose mission is to take down an international crime syndicate known as “The Tribe” (which is not, to my disappointment, also called “Quest”). After about a half hour of padding, Ross winds up on a private jet owned by billionaire Bruce Lieb, played by Craig Fairbrass, whose full name, oft-repeated, sounds so much like the Enter the Dragon star that you keep expecting him to roundhouse kick somebody. Since this never happens, we instead get agents of The Tribe hijacking the plane and kidnapping its passengers, who just happen to include Ross’s ex-fiancée Olivia, played by Tiffany DuPont, and Lieb’s personal bodyguard, played by Dominic Purcell, who somehow manages to not turn evil despite being a relatively minor character played by a distractingly familiar face.
Randy Couture is not, and I don’t think I’m out of line here, Meryl Streep. It might be slightly less sensitive to say he’s not even Jean-Claude Van Damme. He’s a meaty actor, and he fills the room well, and when he hits a guy, you believe it would hurt. But while Hijacked doesn’t ask much of Couture, the few scenes in which when he is required to emote, flirt or be even slightly congenial are not the film’s highlights. Fight Club’s Holt McCanlies makes decidedly more of his confusingly characterized alpha villain, who chastises his henchmen for killing the first few passengers on sight but then completely forgets he ever gave a crap.
The worst part is that action isn’t even terribly actiony. Things happen, people get shot, there are a couple of mildly entertaining fight scenes, roll credits. It’s not that Hijacked never staked a claim on being a particularly original film, even though the ending is kind of clever, so it seems kind of cruel kicking this movie while it’s down. But it’s still a little remarkable that someone can make a feature length motion picture starring Randy Couture, Vinnie Jones and Dominic Purcell – halfway decent names, the lot of them – without a single distinctive action sequence. Fighting somebody in a hallway, bickering over which wire to cut on the time bomb, shooting people in a warehouse… these things constitute the baseline from which action flicks are supposed to deviate in order to distinguish themselves. You can fall back on them if you must, but relying entirely on familiar clichés does the audience no favors.
It’s not a marquee title like Executive Decision or Passenger 57, but you’d expect that would have motivated somebody to try a little harder; tack on a wacky situation, throw in some unusual imagery or at least a give us a gratuitously campy villain to make Hijacked seem necessary. Instead we get a film that plays like a handful of bullet points with no connective tissue between them. This is the Repo Man version of an action movie: a generic store brand that might as well just call itself “Action Movie” on an otherwise blank cover. It looks okay in high definition, warrants no special features, and isn’t worth going through the motions of even renting.