Lifetime Review: 'Mile High Escorts'
A stewardess' new job turns deadly in this Lifetime thriller that kicks it into high gear for the finale.
When Lauren (Saxon Sharbino) first became a stewardess alongside her best friend Ashley (Kara Royster), she never imagined they would wind up becoming escorts. But shortly into her new job, things begin to fall apart for Lauren: her work schedule gets reduced, her cheating boyfriend throws her out of their apartment, and she learns her widowed father is struggling to keep up with the bills. Needing the money and wanting to regain control of her life, Lauren and Ashley join a private airline as flight attendants that also act as escorts to the clientele.
At first, the unconventional job is everything Lauren needed. In addition to the lucrative pay and warm welcome she receives from co-owner Hannah (Christina Moore), Lauren finds herself making an unexpected connection with regular client Thomas (Esteban Benito). But unbeknownst to Lauren, alarming changes are at play within the airline--meaning her decision to get out of the escort service is coming at a dangerous time. As the airline's dark secrets bubble to the surface, will Lauren be able to escape this tangled web with her life?
Prostitution and shady escort services are far from a unique topic for Lifetime to cover in their movies. Some of these films have even been the subject of my reviews, like Deadly Match and The Cheerleader Escort. But to my surprise, Mile High Escorts sets itself apart from most of Lifetime's "Prostitution Perils" films through its approach of the escort business it focuses on. Rather than portraying it as a degrading and soul-crushing operation run by a cruel mastermind, the escort service of Mile High Escorts is presented as an unconventional but otherwise legitimate business. The job initially provides Lauren with the control over her life she craved after being screwed over by her boyfriend and boss, only becoming a typical Lifetimey nightmare when that autonomy is taken away. It's a unique and progressive look at an often demonized profession.
In addition to exploring its familiar plot differently, Mile High Escorts plays its action at a pace that aligns well with its story. The movie quickly throws Lauren into the escort business, and the pace remains consistent as her new job goes from glamorous to life-threatening before reaching an intense third-act crescendo. The pace both keeps the viewer invested and allows time for the film to give heat to its burning question: who among the airline can Lauren trust? Christina Moore and Steve Coulter (the former of whom plays the airline's main boss Franklin) both play their characters in a way where you have doubts about how sincere their professed care for the women in their employ is. Franklin's son Erik, meanwhile, wears his perpetual rage and angst on his sleeve, with Griffin Freeman throwing himself into Erik's unapologetic fury and misogyny. The mystery is short-lived and the solution likely won't surprise you, but it still makes for a tense watch and the solution only brings layers to these three characters and continues Mile High Escorts' forward-thinking look into its titular profession.
Saxon Sharbino makes Lauren a likable and sympathetic protagonist. Sharbino sells Lauren's emotional moments (most notably in the beginning), and the script allows Lauren to remain a level-headed and kind-hearted person even as she becomes enamored by her high life job--barring one uncharacteristic moment of callousness. Kara Royster and Esteban Benito both have great chemistry with Sharbino as Ashley and Thomas respectively, and both bring more than enough charm on their own. SPOILER ALERT Thomas's charm, however, takes a major hit due to the third-act plot twist, which reveals Thomas as an old friend of Erik's who lured Lauren into Erik's clutches to "talk things out". This twist thoroughly derails Thomas's character, having him suddenly become callous enough to betray Lauren and help someone he's learned has killed people, and stupid enough to think Erik is someone who can (or should) be reasoned with. It's enough to make what should be a tragic scene of Thomas dying in Lauren's arms fall flat on its face. Spoilers Over
In memorable minor roles, Adam Huss is a mix of chilling and sleazy as violent customer Paul while Gary Weeks and Ella Frazee are warm and supportive as Lauren's father Robert and sister Shannon. While parts of Mile High Escorts' story are overly predictable and the character derailment detailed in the Spoiler section is a thorn in an otherwise stellar climax, the film has more than enough to counteract these mistakes. The cast is strong and brings depth to their characters, the story and pace draw you in and keep your interest piqued, and the film's attitude towards the escort business allows it to stand out among similarly-themed Lifetime thrillers. Even if your views on sex work differ from mine or the film's, Mile High Escorts is still an enthralling thriller I'm certain you'll enjoy as much as I did.
Score: 8 out of 10 airplane trophies.
About the Creator
Aspiring writer and film lover: Lifetime, Hallmark, indie, and anything else that strikes my interest. He/him.
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