In 2014, Vincent Zhou directed the Chinese thriller Last Flight, starring Ed Westwick and Zhu Zhu, about a red-eye flight under attack from mutant cats. Made on a budget of $10 millions, the film garnered only $5.9 millions at the box-office and yet less than two years later, here comes Lost in the Pacific, made on roughly the same budget but this time a US-China coproduction, with a – very slightly – starrier cast, but mostly the same plot adorned with a few futuristic enhancements: it takes place in 2020 on the inaugural flight of a luxury aircraft, for which all the passengers are celebrities here to create buzz, with a journalist (Jiang Mengjie) in tow to publicize the whole thing. When a freak storm forces the captain (Zhang Yuqi) to make an emergency landing on a deserted island in the Pacific, the plane is attacked by a pack of mutant red-eyed cats, as well as two shady paramilitaries (Bernice Liu and Kaiwi Lyman) who quickly take command and redirect the flight towards a mysterious aircraft carrier. It’s left to the captain and the ex-special forces cook (Brandon Routh looking like an overgrown Jason Schwartzman playing Casey Ryback) to save the day.
A truly embarrassing, mind-bogglingly amateurish attempt at a thriller, Lost in the Pacific culls from hijacking disaster films and airbound creature features, with a dash of island mystery and a hint of biotech sci-fi; it’s highly derivative fare, but that alone has never stopped a film from being entertaining. The real problem here is how flimsily put together it all is, from eye-gougingly cheap CGI that sadly make up most of the film (as it was shot almost entirely in studios and on green-screen), to ear-splitting dialogue spoken in wobbly English by most of the Chinese cast (Zhang Yuqi’s weirdly post-synced dialogue sounds like the vocal function on google translate, only more mechanical and squeaky), or with dead-eyed resignation by the American cast (poor, poor Brandon Routh).
The film makes a few laughable attempts at depth and emotion: Routh gets a hilariously-underdevelopped post-traumatic disorder, and Russell Wong – looking like he’d rather be in his brother’s Airways of Love music video – is roped in a pathetic ‘estranged father and son’ dramatic subplot that ends in unearned tearful redemption. Escaping unscathed is Bernice Liu, whose mercenary character has next to nothing to do, but at least looks charismatic and acts with welcome restraint. When a bit part is the only vaguely palatable part of a film, you know you’re in trouble. Lost in the Pacific made a bit less at the box-office than Last Flight. Let’s hope Vincent Zhou can take a hint.
Long Story Short: A risibly cheap, derivative and cheesy attempt at a thriller. *