Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Turbulence (1997) Review:

Airplane thrillers - it's a common plot line. Whether it's a hijacking by a villain or simple mechanical malfunction, there have been several types of films that run in a similar fashion. Airport (1970) or Executive Decision (1996), just to name a couple, all take place on a plane with the possibility of it crashing and killing a ton of lives. Unfortunately, there are only so many ways something can be done. And as for this production, nothing really stands out.

Lauren Holly as the flight attendant
This story is about a female flight attendant who gets caught in the crossfire on a moving plane that's transporting two dangerous criminals to another city jail. Problem is, she's the only person left alive to fly the plane. It would be ok if this was the only focus but the writer, Jonathan Brett decided to include another subplot - the plane is headed into a level six storm. Thus the name of the title. Not impressive. I'm sure a better title could've been created even if the subplot of the storm wasn't included.

The writer, Jonathan Brett isn't a truly established professional. None of his work is well known and for the films he is given credit for, isn't considered to be even mediocre. For example, why would anyone have two licensed criminals board a passenger airplane? And, when they do get on the plane, there are only 10 passengers,….so why is it so empty? What kind of writing is this? That's not a good sign and it shows throughout the film. The cast may surprise people though. Ray Liotta, Hector Elizondo, Rachel Ticotin [Melina from Total Recall (1990)], Catherine Hicks and John Finn all have number of scenes long enough for viewers to appreciate their presence. However, this doesn't mean their performances are good or even close to being any different than their past roles in films.

Ray Liotta & Catherine Hicks
One of the criminals who is the main antagonist is played by Ray Liotta.  This isn't a surprise. Liotta proved he could play a scary character in Unlawful Entry (1992) and it was much more realistic. Here, Liotta still can be scary but his performance is either underdone or overdone. Almost like he has a split personality. That would've been more entertaining if that had been written into the screenplay. As for the other actors mentioned, they just play minor characters which is nice when they're on screen but when they aren't, the plot runs extremely slow. Lauren Holly, who plays Teri, the flight attendant isn't entertaining either. Her fear looks real but her voice is irritating and can make it hard for people to sympathize with the character.

I'm honestly surprised that the direction wasn't better. The movie is directed by Robert Butler who has 3 Primetime Emmys and a few other awards. The special effects aren't bad either, they at least matched the era of the decade. At least that worked as well as Shirley Walker's score to the film. It wasn't memorable and didn't have a theme but at least it corresponded at all the right moments of each scene. There definitely was the right emotion for each particular segment. But that is it.

For a thriller with a B list cast of actors from the small and big screens, one would think this would turn out at least somewhat watchable. It has ok music and special effects but the writing isn't special or even close to being a little different and the acting is poor.

Points Earned --> 2:10

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