High drama at 40000 feet. A plane full of passengers, one of whom is going to die every twenty minutes if the hijacker’s demands are not met. Add in Liam Neeson as a disillusioned Air Marshall and you have the recipe for a great airplane movie.
The director of ‘Unknown’, Juame Collet-Serra, is reunited with Neeson in this action thriller, also starring Julianne Moore. Downton Abbey’s Michelle Dockery, and Lupita Nyong’o feature in the supporting cast of passengers and crew.
The plane in question is an international flight from New York to London. Veteran U.S Air Marshal Bill Marks (Neeson) makes his way somewhat morosely through the airport and settles in for what should be a routine flight. Julianne Moore plays Jen Summers, a likeable passenger who just happens to end up sitting next to Marks. Noticing his white knuckled tension during take-off she attempts to distract him with some small talk, although never actually revealing anything about herself.
Once the flight is airborne, Marks relaxes. This peace is short lived though, as a threatening text message pops up on his phone. In a series of increasingly disturbing texts Marks is told a passenger will be killed every 20 minutes unless $150 million is transferred into an off-shore bank account. Initially unsure that the threat is real, the texter’s knowledge of personal information about Marks soon jolts him into action. Clearly whoever is texting him learned nothing from the two Taken movies. Never mess with Liam Neeson on a phone, especially not when you are trapped on a plane with him. Neeson is able to churn out films like this at ease, seemingly without breaking a sweat. He might be being type-cast, but I’m not complaining. Things become tense quickly, as every passenger is suddenly an unknown threat, and Marks must try and identify who he can trust and who he can’t. Once the first twenty minutes is up, we are left in no doubt that the texter was serious. The way the first passenger dies is a complete surprise, and throws Marks into a spiral of self doubt.
The situation becomes even more fraught when the bank account the hijacker wants the money transferred into is found to be under Bill Mark’s name. Is the Air Marshal himself the villain, or is he being set up? The authorities on the ground certainly believe Marks has snapped and gone to the dark side. He must find the hijacker not only to save the plane but to prove his innocence. His brusque and at times aggressive manner has not won him any friends, and this combined with live news feeds identifying Marks as the hijacker being watched on the plane further alienate him from the passengers. Who can he trust? Even likeable Jen begins to look sinister. Nothing is clear cut in this film which is full of twists and turns that will keep you on the edge of your seat.
The film cleverly creates an atmosphere of paranoia from the beginning. Every person at the airport is a potential threat, nobody is above suspicion. This is not a subtle film though, with a number of things spelt out a little obviously. Think Snakes on a Plane but with Neeson instead of the snakes. But if you are looking to be drawn into a tense action movie which will have you doubting everyone and looking sideways at the other passengers on your next plane ride, go see it.
Rating: M Violence & offensive language.
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