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Film / Chariot

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You Have Been Chosen.

A 2013 Independent film directed by Brad Osborne and written by Eric Vale, Chariot is a thriller about seven strangers who wake up on an airplane. Having no idea how they managed to get there, they discover that the United States is under attack and there is no place they can land. To make the situation worse, they are cut off from the cockpit, have no idea who the pilots are, and are being flown into Security Airspace making their danger far more imminent.

It appears the passengers have been unwittingly placed in a government program called Chariot, referencing the Ancient Greeks who would put their most valuable citizens on chariots and send them to safety when under attack. However not all the passengers seem important or even useful to a government facing an apocalyptic attack, further increasing the mystery.


Chariot provides examples of:

  • The Ark: Operation Chariot is meant to save 191 people in event of a massive attack on the United States, either important government officials or because they are potentially useful in responding to the attack.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Belinda the housewife turns out to be part of the black ops snatch squad sent to kidnap those on the List. Rather than leave the plane she killed her partner and pretended to be one of the passengers.
  • Blood from the Mouth: After being shot, Captain Moss puts his fingers in his mouth and they come out bloody.
  • Boxed Crook: Aden was an expert hacker for Anonymous, who now works for the government to avoid a twenty year sentence.
  • Brandishment Bluff: The passengers dummy up an Incredibly Obvious Bomb to lure the pilots into opening the door to remove it.
  • Chekhov's Gun
    • There's a discussion about a 727 that went missing in Angola, and whether they're on the same aircraft. Turns out they are on that aircraft, which was stolen so Operation Chariot could have an aircraft 'off the books'. Unfortunately because the 727 was assumed to have been stolen by terrorists, that makes it easy for Major Collins to convince the authorities to shoot it down.
    • Cole talks of how he saved a child from a burning car, and Genevieve talks to Cole about her child that's all she has after losing her husband. Turns out they're both the same child.
    • Averted when the passengers use written messages in an attempt to communicate with the pilots. It doesn't work, but later they think of doing the same thing to talk to the fighters sent to shoot them down, because the pilots will establish visual contact first. But they never have a chance as Major Collins sends a fake radio transmission to make them look like terrorists on a Suicide Attack.
  • Cigarette of Anxiety: Aden is shocked that Genevieve is smoking on board an aircraft, but when she points out how dumb that statement is he bums a cigarette off her, then admits he hasn't smoked one in a year.
  • Claustrophobia: Being in an airplane that's running out of fuel and having no place to land isn't exactly comfortable. Ra suffers from a fear of flying, which doesn't help matters.
  • Closed Circle: The entire action takes place on the airplane.
  • Coincidental Broadcast: Discussed when the passengers wonder if the news report was faked.
  • Cold Equation: Operation Chariot was meant to save valuable members of the government in event of an attack. Belinda was a Black Ops agent sent to kidnap the Secretary of Transport, but left his family behind as they weren't on the List. When she saw there were plenty of empty seats on the plane, she killed her partner so she could stay on the plane as well.
    "The purpose of Operation Chariot is to save lives. I just don't see why it should only apply to certain lives."
  • Conveniently Timed Attack from Behind: After going into hysterics, Ra is knocked out and left tied up in the toilet. He recovers and frees himself right when Belinda is holding the others at gunpoint.
  • Conspiracy Theorist: Aden suggests that the aircraft they are on is a plane that went missing in Angola. And even though he's a high-ranking member of the government, Michael comes up with his own theory (that this is all a test) rather than accept that his family is dead. Turns out both of them are right; it's not a sociological test, but a dry run of the Chariot program to work out any flaws before Congress will approve it, and the airliner was stolen so it would be available while keeping it off the books.
  • Crash Course Landing: One pilot gets killed and the other gets shot, but is still conscious enough to fly the plane. He insists on a co-pilot, but unlike other examples of this trope there's no-one on board with flying experience. Cole the truck driver takes on the task as it’s the Closest Thing We Got. When Captain Moss dies, Cole has to land the airplane as they've completely run out of options at that point.
  • Cut Phone Lines: All the passengers have had their cellphones removed, but Aden finds one tucked into the pocket of a seat. The Homeland Security agent gets through to a colleague who it turns out has Slept Through the Apocalypse. Before he can find out what's happening the phone goes dead and all she gets is a busy signal. Then the phone's battery dies, though not before they get through to Major Collins who informs them that they're flying to an airport that's been already nuked.
  • Deadline News: They find a mobile phone with a Houston news site as its homepage. As a newscaster speaks live, a mushroom cloud erupts in the background and the image freezes on her screaming face as the blast wave hits her.
  • Deadpan Snarker: When the passengers wonder why they could be considered valuable to the government, one being a truck driver from Texas and another being a housewife, Aden replies, "Sounds like a government run program to me."
  • The Elites Jump Ship: The objective of Operation Chariot is to evacuate priority personnel in case on an attack on America. The people in the plane are not priority personnel at all, but a bunch of random nobodies kidnapped to staff a secret dry run of the Operation. Lots of mayhem ensues, the plane and everybody in it are probably killed to keep quiet about the Operation and its lack of viability, and Congress decides to refuse funding it.
  • Every Scar Has a Story: The burn scar on Genevieve's arm is from the road accident where Cole rescued her child.
  • Facial Profiling: Invoked when Ra offers to plant the fake bomb as he looks like everyone's idea of a Middle Eastern terrorist.
  • Face Your Fears: Ra goes to join Cole in the cockpit, despite his fear of flying.
  • Foreshadowing: Despite being a Professional Killer, Genevieve looks shocked when she kills the pilot in self defence, foreshadowing The Reveal that this was only supposed to be an exercise.
  • Gone Horribly Wrong: Chariot was meant to save over a hundred crucial people, but in the chaos of the attack only seven have been saved, not all of them people on the List. Turns out it's a dry run with only a few test subjects, but that goes wrong too when people start dying and the passengers force their way into the cockpit.
  • Got Volunteered: If you're on the Chariot list, you're drugged and put on the airplane by government agents regardless of whether you'd prefer to stay and die with your family.
  • Government Conspiracy: Operation Chariot is a secret government program that involves kidnapping, theft of an airliner and eventually murder.
  • Hope Spot: When it's revealed that the United States has not been attacked, the passengers are shocked at the deception but take comfort in the fact that things aren't as bad as they thought. Then the pilot dies at the controls and Major Collins sets them up to be killed to preserve the secret of Operation Chariot.
  • If You Kill Him, You Will Be Just Like Him!: Michael starts to throttle Belinda, but stops because "I'm not a monster like you." Unfortunately she uses the chance to break free, and both of them get killed by the pilot.
  • I'm a Doctor, Not a Placeholder: When Aden is asked if he can build a fake bomb to draw the pilot's out of the cockpit, he says he's a hacker not a prop maker.
  • Impeded Communication: Turns out the Radio Silence is an enforced trope, as even the pilots can't transmit in an emergency. When there's a Hope Spot that they can use written messages to communicate with the F-15's sent to shoot them down, the radio suddenly starts broadcasting terrorist threats in Arabic saying they're going to crash into the White House.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: Aden goes to find a drink, but there's none on board anyway.
  • Karmic Death: Belinda breaks free and rushes for the cockpit to warn the pilots, only for a pilot to shoot her in the face. Also Genevieve, assuming that everyone dies in the end.
  • The Kindnapper: All the people on the List are drugged and abducted from their homes, whether they want to be or not. Michael especially is infuriated because this means his family was left behind to die, and would have woken up just before Houston was nuked.
  • Manipulative Bitch: Genevieve incites Michael to attack Belinda who is holding them at gunpoint, by getting her to admit she snatched him but left his family behind. Later it turns out she's the one person on board who knows this is all a test run.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Cole once rescued a child from a burning car. Turns out the child was Genevieve's son, which is why she put him on the List of people to be saved, only for him to be selected for the dry run.
  • Not So Stoic: Genevieve breaks down in tears when it turns out she's being 'sacrificed' along with everyone else to cover up Operation Chariot. Likewise when she apologises to Cole for having accidentally condemned him to death, after she put him on the List to save his life.
  • No Ending: The movie ends with Cole trying to land the aircraft on a nearby runway, while F-15s are moving in to shoot them down. A title card shows that Congress cancelled the Chariot program, but that the fate of the missing aircraft the protagonists are on remains unknown.
  • "Open!" Says Me: A major part of the plot involves trying to get through the door to the cockpit. Unfortunately the pilots have orders to kill anyone who tries.
  • Operation: [Blank]: The whole movie revolves around a top-secret project named "Operation Chariot". It turns out that the situation the protagonists are stuck in is a dry run to see if the Operation is feasible — and the dry run has a Downer Ending: people in it go crazy and start to kill each other, everybody is (apparently) killed to keep the Operation quiet, and Congress decides to cancel the program anyway.
  • Ontological Mystery: The movie opens with the protagonists waking up on an airplane flying to an unknown destination with no memory of how they got there.
  • Our Lawyers Advised This Trope: A title card at the start says that in compliance with the Patriot Act, certain details of the Chariot program have been altered.
  • Post-9/11 Terrorism Movie: The movie very much draws on post 9/11 paranoia—sudden attacks on the US with WMD's, government conspiracies, and the movie ends with the aircraft about to be shot down in the belief it's doing another suicide attack.
  • Prayer Is a Last Resort: Aden is suspicious when he hears Genevieve talking to herself behind a closed curtain. She admits that she was praying, something she hadn't done since she prayed for a healthy boy child and got one, only to lose her husband a few months later in an accident. Except she wasn't praying, but reporting to Major Collins on a hidden cellphone.
  • Radio Silence: The pilots have orders not to attempt communication or let anyone into the cockpit. This causes a problem when the passengers make contact with Major Collins, who tells them that the Air Force base they are flying to has been destroyed in a nuclear attack.
  • The Reveal: When the pilot flies the airplane below the cloud layer, they find Washington DC is entirely unharmed. Turns out this was a dry run of the Chariot program to pick out any possible flaws. Unfortunately as several people have died, the people behind the program decide the only way to cover it up is to kill everyone on board by convincing the authorities the 727 is a hijacked airplane on a suicide run for the White House.
  • This Is Reality: Michael argues that the attack has been faked, because the Cold War is over and so a massive nuclear attack on the United States just isn't plausible any more.
  • Spanner in the Works: Michael is the Secretary of Transport, Genevieve works for Homeland Security, Aden is an expert hacker, Ra is a linguist specialising in Middle Eastern languages, and Emily is a former White House intern (the implication being that she's a Monica Lewinsky-expy). But there are two people who don't have any reason to be on the airplane at all; Belinda (a housewife) and Cole (a truck driver), who are assumed to have been snatched by mistake.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: Aden sherlock scans Emily and works out that she's a former drill team captain who wouldn't have given him the time of day back in high school, so it's no good giving Rousing Speeches now. Emily retorts that the reason she didn't Give Geeks a Chance was because people like him had such low self esteem they wouldn't have tried being nice to her anyway.
  • Trail of Blood: While searching the plane for anything useful, they find a trail of blood leading to a closet where there's a man with a Slashed Throat.
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: In 2003 a Boeing 727 truly disappeared in Angola, which was the inspiration behind the film. Other than that, it's all fiction.
  • White Shirt of Death: Michael and Captain Moss are both wearing white shirts and end up bleeding out.
  • You Know Too Much: When the whole thing is revealed to be a dry run of the Chariot program, Genevieve promises the survivors they will be generously compensated if they keep their mouths shut. Then it turns out she can't contact her boss, and they realise they're flying into Washington DC airspace in an aircraft the authorities believe to have been stolen by terrorists in Angola. Turns out with the Chariot dry run a disastrous failure, Major Collins has decided to cover things up by killing everyone on the plane.