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Ground Control (1998)

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A disgraced former air traffic controller is called back into service when the airport's traffic control system malfunctions.


Richard Howard


Talaat Captan (story), Robert Moreland (story) | 2 more credits »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Kiefer Sutherland ... Jack Harris
Bruce McGill ... T.C. Bryant
Kristy Swanson ... Julie Albrecht
Robert Sean Leonard ... Cruise
Kelly McGillis ... Susan Stratton
Margaret Cho ... Amanda
Ruben Paul ... Sam
Charles Fleischer ... Randy
Henry Winkler ... John Quinn
Farrah Forke ... Laura Franklin
Michael Gross ... Murray
Vito D'Ambrosio ... Weather Analyst
Jack Plotnick ... Curtis
Mike Kimmel ... Pudgy
Brian George ... Shamaal


Chicago air traffic controller Jack Harris is a wreck with guilt nightmares after a major airplane crash that killed all 174 aboard. He gives up the job and designs air traffic control games in Phoenix. Five years later, his ex-colleague T.C. Bryant, also transferred to Phoenix, desperately asks him to help out short-term, given desperate staff shortage on New Year's Eve with a bad storm predicted. A power outage hits, and the storm has caused their workload to multiply. Colleagues welcome him in very different states of mind but he quickly proves his capabilities, alas then the fatal memories start creeping up again: will his lack of self-confidence cause another drama? Written by KGF Vissers / DA77

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


No Radar. No Contact. No Control.

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for brief strong language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »






Release Date:

26 August 1998 (Italy) See more »

Also Known As:

Centrul de control See more »

Filming Locations:

Los Angeles, California, USA See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


| (Showtime)

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


This movie features several actors who had main roles on long running TV shows: Kiefer Sutherland (24), Michael Gross (Family Ties), Henry Winkler (Happy Days), Robert Sean Leonard (House, M.D.), and Bruce McGill (Rizzoli & Isles). Margaret Cho was the star of the short lived All-American Girl, while Kristy Swanson starred in the movie Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which was turned into a TV series, but she didn't reprise the role for it. See more »


In the opening of the movie when Transair 290 is shown flying it's clear that's the airplane is Boeing 747 (engines under the wings). Later, when crash site is shown, the debris are from a plane with an engine in the tail, like L-1011. See more »


[first lines]
Title Card: On an average day above the United States, over 200,000 aircraft carry more than 2,000,000 people guided by less than 3,000 air traffic controllers.
Title Card: "My biggest fear? When you've done all you can do and you still have to listen as the image disappears from your screen." - Air Traffic Controller, Los Angeles En Route Center
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User Reviews

Extremely engaging, the best independent action film I've ever seen
16 September 2000 | by millennia-2See all my reviews

'Ground Control' is probably the biggest surprise I've ever encountered since I became a movie fan years ago. It's incredibly well done, with great performances all around, and is seriously the best independent action film I've ever seen, if that could be imagined. The climax is truly riveting, aided by tight editing and strong direction. The real surprise with this movie is that almost all of it takes place in a single set, a fact that the director/editor managed to cover up. It seems that real care was poured into 'Ground Control', a rare feat these days with the countless B action flicks being pumped out each month, and it shows. It's sad that the movie didn't enjoy even a short theatrical run, as it more than deserves it, especially after the similar, and far inferior, 'Pushing Tin' making it into theaters a year later.

It's as if the producers managed to find the only actors that actually have talent and haven't yet made it big time, and casted them in this movie. Kiefer Sutherland (The Lost Boys) is great in the main role, and is given strong support from Kelly McGillis (Top Gun, Witness- and the only real high profile actor in the film), Kristy Swanson (The Chase) and Robert Sean Leonard (Dead Poets Society)

The production values are unexpectantly high, especially for a movie on a budget like this one. Very good direction, commendable editing, and a superb script. The dialog is crisp and realistic, with a few really good one-liners, something I've never seen in a low budget action movie. The musical score is original and also very good, comparable to that of many large studio productions.

Despite a few flaws already pointed out in previous postings, I absolutely loved this movie, and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in seeing a refreshing break from the norm.


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