What’s It About? Alcoholic biplane pilot Patrick O’Malley (Tom Selleck) is drinking his way through the 1920s. He is hired by society heiress Eve “Evie” Tozer (Bess Armstrong) to find her missing father Bradley (Wilford Brimley), as Eve is also an accomplished pilot they take two biplanes – Dorothy and Lillian – on their journey, which leads to many arguments in the air and on land. This adventure takes them through six countries that eventually involve them in a struggle against a Chinese warlord.
Verdict: Rumours are that High Road To China was offered to Tom Selleck after he had to pass on the Indiana Jones in Raiders Of The Lost Ark role due to his commitments in Magnum P.I., yet this movie is not even in the same arena as the Indy films. Selleck lacks any of the humour, wit or charisma of Harrison Ford even though they are essentially playing the same type of person, Tom seems only accomplished to turn out a straight shooting no nonsense role that has more aggression and vitriol than is really required. Throughout most of the film Selleck looks lost in the maze of a script that doesn’t give him time to bed down and really understand the character; instead it’s left to the typical drinking stereotype as his go-to style. The rest of the cast do what they can with a poor script, but none of them seem particularly immersed in their roles. Armstrong comes across as an annoying socialite in the mould of Paris Hilton and Wilford lacks any punch to his supposed brave father routine. Even a small cameo from Brian Blessed is reigned in.
The direction feels lacklustre and without conviction with the story just drifting along. It could be down to such a weak script that gives the main cast a dialogue that does nothing but move the story from point A to point B. Also considering the soundtrack is produced by John Barry, of James Bond fame, for long periods there is no background music. It feels like the film makers have shown Barry the last 30 minutes of the film and told him to write for that section only. It’s a completely unmemorable score that even John Barry doesn’t put on his albums.
Extras: A trailer, and that’s it.
Final Words: It could have been Tom Selleck’s version of Indiana Jones (Spielberg and Lucas were correct in their decision), instead it’s a slow moving, dull and rather unimaginative film with no direction and a cast that seem unmoved by it all. The story is so poor that you’ll be asleep before Tom’s even got in his plane, and it includes one of the most lacklustre endings in modern movies. A complete bore from start to finish.
High Road to China is out on DVD on 28 October 2013.