After “Operation Mekong” (2016), “Operation Red Sea” (2018), and “The Bravest” (2019), the Chinese cinema industry continues on with the series of epic tales about infallible servicemen. Andrew Lau’s “The Captain” is such a movie and it was inspired by a true story of Sichuan Airlines flight 3U8633 incident.
The story takes place on the 14th of May, 2018. Captain Liu Chuanjian (Zhang Hanyu) prepares for a standard flight from Chongquin to Lhasa together with his two co-pilots, Xu Ruichen (Ou Hao) and Liang Peng (Du Jiang) as well as the flight attendants supervised by Bi Nan (Yuan Quan). Passengers board an Airbus A319 plane and everything seems to be in order. Forty minutes after take-off, on the altitude of 32,000 feet, the windshield blows out, sucking one of the co-pilots halfway out of the cockpit. The plane is now depressurized and with inoperative radio communication. To make matters worse, the flight is cut off on the Tibetan Plateau from the nearest emergency landing site because of the raging storm. The only hope for the survival of 119 passengers are Captain Liu Chuanjian and his crew.
“The Captain” is a fascinating disaster movie which, instead of descending into slow-paced procedural dramas like “Flight” (2012) or “Sully” (2016), goes all action and throws callbacks to such memorable motion pictures like “Airport” (1970) and “Miracle Landing” (1990). Even though Zhang Hanyu dominates the screen with his charismatic presence, “The Captain” is not a one-man show because it strives to faithfully retell the tragedy of Sichuan Airlines flight. The movie goes to such an extent on this matter that it even pays a beautiful tribute to the real heroes in the end credits.
The movie’s primary assets are awesome visuals, evidently improved with decent CGI effects. In addition, elaborate action sequences will certainly keep the viewers on the edge of their seats. However, some should prepare for a little dose of clichés (flashbacks about loved ones, passengers having panic attacks) and pathos (trusting the crew) which are, in a way, obligatory for this kind of movie.
With regard to performances, Zhang Hanyu is obviously too cool for school as the captain saving the day. Second best performer, and a true highlight of this picture, is Yuan Quan as the Chief Purser. There are also some really good performances from the actors and actresses playing the passengers in distress.
If you have a chance, then get on board with “The Captain,” fasten your seat belts, and experience the worst case scenario with a miraculous ending. Apart from being an informative account of the crew’s heroism, it is also one gripping story. “The Captain” will keep you entertained from beginning to the end.