Probably the big draw for anyone thinking of watching Dominic Burns’ Airborne will be to see just how their favourite Jedi is doing nowadays.
Probably the big draw for
anyone thinking of watching Dominic Burns’ Airborne will be to see just how
their favourite Jedi is doing nowadays. He might not be up to battling the Sith anymore, but
can Mark Hamill tackle a low-budget
British horror while keeping a straight face?
He plays Malcolm Book, an Airport Control Tower
Manager on his – would you believe it – final day at work. Due to a bad storm
only one flight takes off on his shift, bound for New York. But it’s a flight
full of unusual passengers and some interesting cargo that’s going to keep him
busy all night.
Which means essentially what Burns has produced is a
kind of Agatha Christie murder
mystery in the air. Once the usual routines and passenger manifesto have been
established – young lovers, a difficult first class customer, a doctor, an FBI
agent – then we’re up in the air. That is until some of the passengers start
going missing and Gemma Atkinson’s
head stewardess is tasked with finding out what on earth is going on.
With a decent premise (a sort of less starry Flightplan) and a genuinely creepy tone
for the first half, Airborne has
plenty of potential to be a breakout hit. Sadly it’s let down by a rather
bizarre final act twist in a bid presumably to mask the otherwise formulaic
plot once everyone’s true motives are revealed.
With a cast including Hamill, Julian Glover and Eastenders
veteran Billy Murray, the film at
least manages to keep things sailing smoothly in the acting department, even
when the Hamill’s scenes at the control tower threaten to tip towards Airplane! pastiche at times.
However, others fare less well, including Atkinson’s
rather schoolteacher mannered performance, which sees her ordering everyone to
‘Sit down!’ the minute any kind of trouble erupts, in rather like an
overly-egged school play.
Thankfully a brief running time, some genuine moments
of peril and a few decent red herrings or two mean Airborne does its best with that Christie-influenced plot, not
least with the rather against-type ending. Of course anyone who’s seen any kind
of airplane drama will know the clichés, and while Airborne uses many effectively to get off the ground, sadly that
auto-pilot soon kicks in.