THE TICKET is a shallow suspense drama about greed and survival featuring a group of smaller-than-life characters. The film betrays its made-for-cable origins.
Keith Reiker (James Marshall) is a Washington state charter pilot whose meager income can't pay the bills one winter. His weary wife CeCe (Shannen Doherty) decides to take their son Eric (Phillip van Dyke) and split for Spokane, where a retail- management job awaits. Then Keith discovers that a
lottery ticket he bought during a Denver stopover has hit the $23 million jackpot. Keith tentatively reconciles with CeCe and borrows a plane from airstrip owner Rita Martin (Heidi Swedberg), planning to fly himself, his wife, and boy straight to Denver to collect. After only 30 miles aloft,
however, the plane runs out of gas and crashes in the snowy mountains. Keith and CeCe figure out that the plane's trouble was the result of sabotage engineered by Rita and her mechanic-lover Chuck (Al Mancini) so they can grab the ticket for themselves. The Reikers survive the landing, however,
and battle the elements to trek across rugged terrain to a remote weather-station encampment. It turns out to be deserted, but provides them with shelter, gasoline, and the wherewithal to rig an electrified death trap when Chuck snowmobiles in for the kill. Ruthless Rita grabs Eric at gunpoint,
forcing Keith to surrender. CeCe, unobserved, finds an emergency flare gun and fires it into the villainess, blowing her up good. Chuck's leftover snowmobile gives the Reikers a way back to civilization.
THE TICKET gets off to a bleakly compelling start, with director Stuart Cooper not wasting a moment to set the tone of a recession-hit environment in which the decision to murder friends for their multi-million-dollar windfall can be made without hesitation. Marshall conveys a quietly desperate,
working-class persona that doesn't guarantee a Hollywood happy ending, and he's well-matched against Doherty, an actress with a knack for sheer unpleasantness (one almost expects sullen CeCe to have been guilty of the aerial sabotage). Once it becomes evident that the family preyed-on together
will stay together, however, things fall into a drab, predictable rut of domestic pep talk (while fighting for their lives, the husband learns to be a better father) intercut with hackneyed sneers from one-note antagonists ("Imagine what we could do with all that money"). The sense of danger
remains low throughout, and the autopilot script finishes with the bogus plot device of a flare gun wielded as an awesome weapon of mass destruction. A narrative feint about whether the precious lottery ticket escaped Rita's fiery demise is weak at best. THE TICKET was filmed near Park City, Utah,
site of Robert Redford's annual Sundance Film Festival. (Violence, adult situations, profanity, substance abuse.)
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- Released: 1997
- Rating: PG-13
- Review: THE TICKET is a shallow suspense drama about greed and survival featuring a group of smaller-than-life characters. The film betrays its made-for-cable origins. Keith Reiker (James Marshall) is a Washington state charter pilot whose meager income can't pay… (more)