AFI Film Festival Presented by Audi: There’s a stunning concept at the heart of the powerful new documentary Charlie Victor Romeo, co-directed by Robert Berger, Patrick Daniels, and Karlyn Michelson. A film that 100% uses the transcripts of the “black box” recordings from six airline emergencies, some that result in catastrophic results.
From the jump, the film is unflinching and unafraid to bring to the forefront, the unimaginable terror that these pilots face with the responsibility of up to 590 passengers on board. On one hand, the film feels like a PBS special, and manages to walk the line between entertainment and basic life lessons. On the other hand, the movie could be the most horrifying cinematic endeavor witnessed since The Exorcist. If you have even a remote fear of flying, there’s a chance you’ll never set foot on a plane ever again. There are some pilots and co-pilots that communicate effectively, talking things out and keeping their composure and hope entact in a dire situation. There are others, who mess around with flight attendants and fight over what should be the next course of action. Some dialogue will leave your jaws dropped.
Based on the stage play of the same name, the filmmakers hold nothing back. Charlie Victor Romeo lands effective with everything it sets out to accomplish. However, its aesthetics are admittedly amateur, as it looks like it was recorded for your city’s television channel on the stage at your local high school. For a concept like this, I would have appreciated a more seasoned cinematographer, a better developed production design, and even a more ambitious take on its editing. The story is strong enough to overcome these faults but they’re worth noting.
A powerful documentary with a sensational premise, Charlie Victor Romeo is one of the more intriguing things I’ve witnessed this year. Something about hearing the voices of individuals seconds before they die is very reflective and makes you look closely on your own life. A fish-hooking film that won’t lose its hold. You haven’t seen anything like this yet.