Hijack (1998)


I picked this up soon after release on DVD in the States to add to my extensive collection of Jeff Fahey movies under the title The Last Siege: No Surrender. It was released around the time that those faux action movies, that recycled action sequences from other bigger budgeted movies, arrived and Fahey had appeared in a few like No Tomorrow and Epicenter. I had a feeling that Hijack was going to be one of these. In a way it is, it just recycles its own footage from the start of the movie to the end.

The Last Siege

I will call this Hijack going forward as the title The Last Siege: No surrender and Speed Train are stupid. A Siege does not take place, if it were to have happened then I’m sure it would not have been the last in history. There isn’t a significant peace making deal that sorts out humanities woes once and for all. The need for a sub title is a little perplexing, so that the audience doesn’t confuse it with the other movies in The Last Siege franchise. And No Surrender is a silly addition.

Hijack is modestly entertaining. There are obvious budget limitations and the film does feel quite cheap, in places. However, this is offset by the agreeable cast who, whilst not giving their all, seem to enjoy being there.

Fahey does his John McClane and he’s really just repeating what he did in Lethal Tender, which ain’t bad. Playing things pretty straight as a TEA agent, in the wrong place at the wrong time with a loved one in danger. Early in the movie there is a little contention and moody drama that Fahey devours. However, the role becomes a lot more bland when he boards the train and interacts with the other characters.

Joining him is partner Valerie, played by the delicious Beth Toussaint, who spends most of her screen time chin wagging with Larry Manetti and Ernie Hudson about the latter’s speech and political campaign goals. Hudson is Hudson playing a respectable Governor trying to do the right thing, with little speeches and words of encouragement being needed, to be honest, he is pretty wasted in the movie. Manetti plays a weasely advisor and is easily one of the more entertaining roles in the film.

Smitty is our villain, sorry, Brent Huff as David. Turning on a somewhat republican rhetoric about the freedoms of the American citizen and to be honest, I was a bit surprised that Hijack used an actual motivation as the villain’s reasons for the hijack. Smitty is likeable as an impassioned bad guy who will obviously appeal to a certain percentage of the audience as he delivers little speeches about the American way. Smitty’s men are entertaining and have little personalities rather than being gun wielding grunts. Supporting him is Patrick Fitzpartick, who really has little to do and James Stephens from The Getaway as an egghead computer expert.

Elsewhere we have Frank McRae providing reliable support for Fahey. The two spend a little time together and I rather thought that McRae might fill the Reginald VelJohnston role to prop up Fahey emotionally during the hijacking. Robert Miano plays Fahey’s buddy and boss. It’s safe to say you have seen most of the folks on the train in something else, and likely better. Hijack spends a little time at the start of the movie doing an Airport style introduction for the handful who are boarding the train.

I find that music in films like this can be hit or miss. In the beginning Hijack has a tacky soundtrack that marries with the cheap look of the film. However, as the film progresses there is a notable shift in the quality and by the time we get to the end credits, things are sounding a lot more like an orchestral track arrived.

Hijack plays out the Die Hard scenario beat for beat, however, the action takes its time to arrive. Action is confined to sneaking between train carriages in full view of everyone else, aside from a small bathroom that Fahey can hide in to allow a henchman to pass. Where Under Siege 2 (Aha, that’s where the Siege in the re-title comes from) cheats with the passages under the supertrain, Hijack does not have that luxury. Instead, exterior shots of the train feature an indeterminate number of carriages. We see Fahey and co. in four different carriages and a poorly dressed engine driver set, however, as the train whizzes past the camera sometimes there are 6 carriages, others have 3, obvious footage grabbed on the hoof. Yet then there is the odd shot of Fahey clambering around the engine to get to the front of the train. 

A stunt later on helps the over quality of the production as Fahey’s character is ejected from the train, in a pretty fast paced stunt, and has to find his way back on board. Using a helicopter for delivery Fahey leaps onto the carriage and scampers into the train. This stunt is exceptionally well shot and edited as there was not a single moment that I felt a stuntman as doubling for Fahey.

However, the film feels like a hodgepodge of footage throughout, shots are reused frequently. Initial opening scenes of a ATF operation feel cheaply done, possibly shot in someone’s garage with faceless extras, only cutting to Fahey and Bosco at an obviously different location wrapping up the operation. Later, during the films climax, expanded shots of this TEA operation footage with Bosco is dropped in and given it’s requirement at both ends of the film, it’s difficult to imagine what happened that the footage had to be reused.

I have a high tolerance for crap but a soft spot for this. It’s messy, ugly and hardly thrilling. However, it’s fun, interesting and full of enjoyable performances, even if there isn’t a single one that is a career best. A movie best served with beer and buddies.

Poster and titles are churned up all over the world with this film in order to cash in on the whatever action film is doing the rounds, but it’s safe to say that Hijack is the best title.

Hijack is pretty hard to find in the UK. It’s not streaming anywhere and Amazon is a bit of a gamble as to whether you get a DVD or a weird cable for your money.

Ebay might be your best bet right now.
I wouldn’t imagine that this is a film that is in high demand for a 4K UHD or even a blu ray release any time soon.


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