Forgotten Action Cinema: Turbulence 3 – Heavy Metal

I had no idea someone made a sequel to director Robert Butler’s low-rent Ray Liotta thriller “Turbulence”, let alone two. So you can probably imagine my surprise when I happened upon a random copy of “Turbulence 3: Heavy Metal” on VHS at a local antique mall. For a whopping $1, I was treated to what appeared to be three separate movies edited together into one needlessly complicated thriller. The story concerns itself with a Marilyn Manson-style rock star who stages a private show aboard a 747 as its flying across the United States. Before long, the passengers are treated taken hostage by their goth hero, who intends to crash the plane into the most evil location on the entire planet: Eastern Kansas. Now, it’s up to some random FBI boss (Joe Mantegna), one of his startlingly sexy agents (Gabrielle Anwar), and a hippie hacker (Craig Sheffer) to stop this guy from unleashing an unholy apocalypse on mankind. Did I mention that Rutger Hauer is flying the plane? Yes, folks, it’s that kind of direct to video thriller. The fact that most of the central characters are in entirely different locations makes the film feel strange, as if these storylines were never designed to work together. Honestly, veteran television director Jorge Montesi could have nixed the entire Mantegna subplot without anyone ever noticing its absence. So what’s the glue that makes this particular forgotten endeavor worthy of investigation? John Mann’s turn as God-hatin’ metal God Slade Craven is essentially the film’s floatation device; just when you think you’re about ready to check out, Craven says or does something so unintentionally hilarious that you’re forced to see what happens next. When he turns his back on Satan to pray to God for a safe landing, I nearly fell out of my chair. “Turbulence 3: Heavy Metal” would have made a great episode of “CSI”, “NCIS”, or one of the other countless scripted thrillers on American television. As a feature-length flick, it’s just too damn long. Fun, however, for all the wrong reasons.