Mark Hamill has to make do without the force when he is cast as an airport manager trying to safely land a plane that is under attack from a supernatural force in this chiller from across the Atlantic.
The trouble begins right way. We open on an airport in England that has grounded all but one flight due to “Hurricane Ophelia,” and you know you are in for it when a weather event is named after the most unstable woman in all of Shakespeare’s plays.
The lucky folks who get to fly are an odd lot and include:
• Max, an angry gangster who travels with a lethal pair of escorts
• Bob Turner, a talks-too-much geography teacher
• Harry, a stewardess with a man’s name and a macho disposition
• Robbie, the last-minute flight attendant replacement, who rocks a villainous mustache
People barely settle into their seats before the fun begins. First, a set of swingers head off to the restroom to do the one thing you’re not supposed to do in there besides smoke. Next, a guy causes a ruckus when he points out that the plane has made a turn and is veering away from their destination (New York City). Next, Bob disappears, but that is probably a good thing, since he refuses to keep his theory on “Global Warming” to himself.
The change in flight path does not go unnoticed on the ground. The airport staff, led by Malcolm (played without Jedi powers by the aforementioned Hamill) spot the course change and immediately try to ring the pilot. Turns out, the pilot isn’t taking any calls, now that he and his crew are dead. This news is no worse than what comes next, as government agents storm the airport and explain that there are even more problems on Flight 686.
Turns out that the plane is carrying an ancient Chinese vase worth millions. The aircraft is also transporting one gangster, a disgraced doctor and a pair of soldiers who are under suspicion of foul play. All of that is nothing compared to what is really happening. Harry has opted to take possession of the vase and divert the plane to South America, where she intends to sell it and the plane to a drug cartel bigwig. To this end, she has teamed up with her boyfriend, who happens to be working for the gangster .
If all of this wasn’t enough, we learn the vase is a vessel for transporting the soul of an ancient Chinese sorcerer who is very angry but now free to roam the cockpit and possess people until it finds one who will make for a permanent home. It all falls to a few passengers and one attendant to crash the plane. That way, the ancient evil being gets a burial that should preempt its scheme to enslave the earth.
You have to love a terror flick when it pours one horror on top of the other. This movie goes all out in providing the characters with plenty enough peril for three movies.
The flick gets a boost from a trio of older actors who know just how to play this material. On the ground they have Hamill, actually looking old enough to play a guy who is about to retire. Billy Murray is also on hand as the government spook who takes over Hamill’s office. He is a bad dude here but will be better known to younger viewers as the voice of Price in the video game “Call of Duty 2.” Up in the sky, the film gets a lift from Alan Ford, as the gangster. He has played a lot of them, but his best bit was as a tough guy in “The Long Good Friday.”
All in all, this is good stuff and much better than the junk that you’ll have to sit through if you fly this holiday season. The final twist is killer.
2012, rated R.
“No one is flying the plane.”
“Remain seated and you will get complimentary drinks. Happy?”
“I met someone new. Mr. Jack Daniels.”