Flight of the Phoenix is a 2004 remake of a 1965 film, both based on the 1964 novel The Flight of the Phoenix, by Elleston Trevor, about a group of people who survive a plane crash in the Gobi Desert and must build a new plane out of the old one to escape. The film stars Dennis Quaid, Tyrese Gibson, Hugh Laurie, Miranda Otto, and Giovanni Ribisi. It opened in the US on December 17, and received mixed reviews.
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When an Amacor oil rig in the Gobi Desert of Mongolia proves unproductive, Captain Frank Towns (Quaid) and co-pilot A.J. (Gibson) are sent to shut the operation down. However, on their way to Beijing, a major dust storm rips apart one of their engines, forcing them to crash land their C-119 Flying Boxcar in an uncharted area of the desert. Their cargo consists of used parts and tools from the rig, the rig's crew, and Elliot (Ribisi), a lone drifter. The crash results in three people dying. When the storm ends and the dust settles, it becomes apparent that they are 200 miles off course with only one month's worth of water available. Jeremy (Jones) thinks about leaving, but Rady (Malikyan) explains that the month they're in (July) is the hottest in the Gobi, and that he wouldn't be able to make it.
At first they decide, with the counsel of Towns, to just sit and await rescue. However, after surveying the situation and realizing that their value to Amacor is less than they had originally believed, they reconsider and are pitched a radical idea by Elliot, who claims to be an aeronautical engineer: rebuild the remains of their C-119 into a new, functional aircraft. Towns initially refuses, which causes Liddle (Campbell) to wander off on his own out of protest. Towns attempts to go in search for him, following the footsteps Liddle left in the sand. He comes across a valley littered with fresh debris. This turns out to be cargo from the plane which had been dropped when the tail was cut open. Among the debris, he discovers the stripped body of Kyle, full of bullet wounds with shell casings clustered on the ground near him. At this point, Liddle appears and explains that someone had already been there and took the watch that Kyle won from him in a poker match.
They struggle for several weeks rebuilding the plane through dust storms, lack of water, and fighting amongst the group. They christen it "Phoenix" after the legendary bird. A problem evolves when a group of smugglers camp nearby; when the survivors attempt to communicate, the bandits kill Rodney, but are killed in a short, fierce skirmish when ambushed by Towns. Later, it is revealed that Elliot's aircraft design experience has been restricted to the design of model airplanes, much to the anger of everyone, especially Ian (Laurie), who almost kills Elliot. However, they eventually are able to construct the new aircraft and take off barely in time to escape a larger group of bandit attackers seeking revenge for murdering the smugglers.
Through a series of photos, we see what became of the crew when they made it back to civilization. All have been revitalized by the experience: Towns and A.J. start their own airline (appropriately named Phoenix Aviation), Sammi and his wife start their own restaurant (Jeremy and Rady are there to celebrate), Liddle is reunited with his wife and kids, Ian becomes a professional golfer, Kelly (Otto) is working at an ocean oil rig, and Elliot wears a flight suit on a Flight International magazine cover with the headline: "NASA's New Hope?"
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