Alpha Alert
Three Stars (out of five). 2013. Released by Dimension Extreme. Running time 93 minutes. Not rated, but has gore and violence. Not for children. This DVD is equipped with English Subtitles for the deaf. DVD has no special features.

What do you mean, I should have taken the stairs? Alpha Alert starts out very good. Three US Army soldiers who are attending psychiatric counseling for post traumatic stress disorder in a Washington D.C. building all take the same elevator down when their therapy sessions are abruptly canceled on them. They are Captain White (Jennifer Morrison, from Once Upon A Time), Sgt. Oldsman (Josh Steward) and private Diego (Stephen Rider). But while theyíre on their way down to the lobby, the elevator suddenly stops. Now stuck in the elevator, the threesome try to call for help, but only get static on the intercom. Three people with PTSD now find themselves trapped together in a tight spot with no easy answers, and it will only get worse.

Excuse me, Captain, but did you just call me the Mad Hatter? A search on the web over a cell phone shows that Washington D.C. has just suffered a terrorist attack that started with an EMP burst that wiped out power, and itís being followed by massive radiation from a dirty bomb that had just went off. When they finally get somebody within the building to answer them on the intercom, they are told that the building is being evacuated due to the radiation and to just remain in the elevator until somebody comes for them. But Captain White decides to take matters into her own hands by going up on top of the elevator with Diegoís assistance.

Wait, what movie are we in, again? Tension mounts as Oldsman, who wants to just follow orders and stay put in the elevator, starts fighting with White and Diego. Just when all hell breaks loose with radioactive dust flying everywhere, something very funny happens. Remember the scene from Airplane, where somebody comes up to Robert Stack and informs him that the stricken airliner is about to come in for a landing? When asked if they should switch on the runway lights, Stack tells them to donít do that, because "thatís exactly what theyíd expect us to do!" A similar moment occurs here, and while itís not meant to be funny, itís still very hysterically funny in a completely unintentional way, taking me right out of the superb story in the elevator.

Are you still watching me? Go away, already! As long as weíre trapped in the elevator with the trio, Alpha Alert is a gripping thriller thatís in the capable hands of three great actors--Morrison, Steward and Rider. The big mistake the filmmakers make (spoiler alert) is revealing that itís all simply a test too soon. I got the feeling it might have been better if they let the wildness happening in the elevator ride itself out to the end, where itís finally revealed to be a test in the last ten minutes or so. The filmís climax would have benefited from such a revelation. As it stands, Alpha Alert is pretty good up to a point, until it falls apart because it loses focus on its riveting, stripped-down story of three characters trapped in a box. --SF

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