Action/Adventure 98 May 12th, 2006
The soulless recycling of the 70s proceeds apace with this brisk, empty-skulled resurrection of the 1972 Irwin Allen cheesecake. The digitals are predictably unaffecting, but it's the hilarious dialogue and brutally obvious intros to the B-level cast that bruise more. Instead of Gene Hackman's Nietzschean priest, we get Josh Lucas as a career gambler with a mercenary sense of survival. Kurt Russell is his counterpoint, an ex-New York mayor ("Cool!" someone says in mid-fight-for-life) and, luckily, a retired fireman. Old people -- the linchpin of every cruise ship passenger list -- are absent here. In the end, Wolfgang Petersen's film may, like Steven Spielberg's War of the Worlds, go down well depending on your proximity to the World Trade Center five years ago. The easy wow factor of disaster films -- fireballs, massive explosions, flying bodies, and architectural obliteration on a large scale -- should no longer be a gimme. I do not look forward to the inevitable remake of The Towering Inferno.