Official Tagline: A female FBI agent is offered millions to help a thief escape from a hijacked airplane.

Written by: Jesse Mittelstadt, Tyler W. Konney and Richard Switzer
Directed by: Alex Merkin
Producer: Jared Safier and 45 other producers and 11 production companies.
Starring: Denise Richards, Greer Grammer, Stephen Graybill, Dolph Lundgren.

Altitude is the 2017 action movie starring Denise Richards as disgraced FBI hostage negotiator, Gretchen Blair who is on a cross county plane trip that just happens to get hijacked by criminals. The movie begins with a riff on the “Jake from State Farm” commercial where the guy on the phone is a distraught office drone who has taken a group of hostages and on the other end of the line is FBI hostage negotiator agent Blair talking in her best sexy 900-line voice. This sexy talk seems to be working, but the hard as nails Agent in charge orders Blair to get off the phone because the swat team is taking over. Taking matters into her own hands Blair sneaks into the office building and apprehends the bad guy moments before he can be shot by the swat snipers. Instead of being rewarded for bravery Blair is reprimanded by her superior and sent back to Quantico, flying coach no less. This scene is to establish Agent Blair as a brave woman of action, good at her job. The audience will now have the expectation that throughout the movie, Blair will display this expertise. Unfortunately, the scene was not written very well or directed in a way that gave Denise Richards much to work with to make her character shine. Later in the movie we never see Blair use her negotiating skills, not to negotiate with her boss and not with the hijackers.

There is one scene where the writer and director did set up a confrontation scene when a fat slob has taken Blair’s assigned seat and she could have used her negotiating skills to get him to move, but Blair has no negotiating skills and is rescued by a flight attendant who gives her an upgrade to first class and coincidentally sitting next to charming rogue, Terry [Kirk Baker] who double crossed a criminal gang and is the reason the gang hijacks the airplane. When called upon to fight, Blair usually takes a beating or is rescued by Terry. The writer seems to not to know what to do with the Blair character for most of the movie and has her hiding most of the time.

The movie has several plot holes that you could fly a passage plane through. Logic and the laws of physics seemed to have been tossed out of the window at times. Setting an action film in a jet passage plane creates story challenges, but writer Jesse Mittelstadt and director Alex Merkin should have at least done some research as to what happens to a jet when the cargo doors are open or how you can’t parachute out of a jet airplane from the front of the plane because you would be sucked into the jet engine [don’t get me started on how nearly impossible two people jumping with only one parachute would be]. How about not having your main character spend most of the movie hiding in the luggage compartment? These are just a few of the story problems with this movie.

I’m not blaming the actors for the problems with this movie, they all do the best they can with this tepid script. Greer Grammer who plays sadistic Sadie, has the best part and is given the best lines. Grammer play Sadie with an over the top glee as she terrorizes and kills any passengers who get in her way. The main bad guy is Sharpe and Dolph Lundgren plays him as a somewhat sleepy, disinterested, just here to collect a check for my three days of shooting extended cameo appearance role. Denise Richards does the best she could with the weak material she had to work with. She seems to be game to do whatever the director needed her to do; no matter how stupid it made her character appear. I’ve always liked Denise Richards, who can forget her in that wet T-Shirt in “Wild Things”? She was a good Bond Girl as Christmas Jones and had another memorable wet shirt scene in The World Is Not Enough which many consider Pierce Brosnan’s best Bond Movie. Perhaps if director Merkin could have figured out a way to have a hot tub in the plane’s cargo hold where agent Blair spends most of the movie, this would have been a more memorable film too.

I know I’ve been kind of hard on Altitude and I’m giving the impression that this is a terrible movie, but that isn’t the case. The movie is entertaining if you don’t think too hard about if things could work or pay attention to the uninspired directing. I just wish the producers, writers and director had spent more time and effort on creating a logical and exciting story and given the cast more to work with. When you establish character traits or talents in the first act, then give the audience some payoff later in the film and let us see the character use those skills. Do not make the characters do stupid things just to advance the plot, write scenes that advance the plot in a logical way.

If you are looking for this movie, do not confuse it with the 2010 movie also called “Altitude” starring Jessica Lowndes , which was about a small passenger plane trapped in a supernatural storm with a giant flying squid [yes, you read that right] or the other hijacking action movie called “The Fast and The Fierce” produced by The Asylum, also released this month, which as with most Asylum films is an ultra-cheap rip-off of other movies cobbled together with crappy results.

If you are a Denise Richards fan and looking for some mindless action adventure aboard an airplane in jeopardy, then Altitude may be the ticket for you. There are some fun moments and Greer Grammer as the wicked Sadie is worth the price of admission

Screen Writer Ink
Fade In Is Just The Beginning

Movie Review: Altitude [2017]
If you are a Denise Richards fan and looking for some mindless action adventure aboard an airplane in jeopardy, then Altitude may be the ticket for you. There are some fun moments and Greer Grammer as the wicked Sadie is worth the price of admission
63%Overall Score

About The Author


John Morgan Risner John has been featured in several magazines and television programs including Great Day Live and ABC News with Diane Sawyer, talking about screenwriting, movie making, the James Bond films and the Oscar nominations. John is also a film historian, specializing in horror films and is an expert on the James Bond films and novels. John Morgan Risner is available for speaking engagements and seminars for writing groups,workshops and retreats, comic and movie conventions, and of course screenwriting and film festivals. Please send an email to for rates and scheduling. In his role as senior story analysis and head writer at Screen Writer Ink, John has over ten years as a Screenwriter, Screenplay Analysis, Story Consultant , Writing Mentor and is a Screenwriting Instructor at two major universities. This experience combined with his Degree in Screenwriting and Film Production, plus experience as a producer, director and actor, makes John uniquely qualified to analyze stories and screenplays to provide guidance to writers and producers looking to create high quality marketable novels and screenplays . The expert staff at Screen Writer Ink not only provides writing and mentor services to writers, but also manuscript analysis and editing and full screenplay analysis and coverage. Screen Writer Ink is available to producers and production companies for rewriting assignments, script doctoring and complete screenplay creation. Specialties: Screenwriting, Producing,Ghost Writing, Directing, Story Creation , Acting, Writing, Film Production, Speaker, Instruction and Analysis. Please send an email to for further information

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