Airborne - out now on DVD

Monday, 23 July 2012 09:24

Airborne - out now on DVDWhen all other planes have been grounded because of an oncoming storm, trans-atlantic flight 686 to New York is boarded and ready for takeoff. Only a dozen or so passengers embark, along with a suspect package in a wooden crate. One of the crew is an unfamiliar last-minute replacement, and an obnoxious gangster and his two bodyguards put everyone on edge. Combined, you have all the ingredients for a very bumpy flight!

The impressive cast of this edgy thriller includes Mark Hamill (“Star Wars: Episodes IV-VI”) as a stressed-out air traffic controller on his last day before retirement, Craig Conway (“The Descent”, “Dog Soldiers”) as one of the aforementioned heavies, Billy Murray (The Bill), Julian Glover (Game of Thrones, Doctor Who - “The City of Death”), Andrew Shim (“This Is England”) as a squaddie fresh from the front and Gemma Atkinson (Casualty, Hollyoaks) as a very plucky flight attendant.

Whilst the movie might not win any awards for originality, the action is surprisingly unpredictable and enough red herrings are thrown in to keep the audience on the back foot. The pace is high and the lack of passengers onboard the 747 makes it feel roomy and quite eerie. There are plenty of relatively quiet, dark spaces for shocks, preventing the story becoming too constrained or unbelievable. Even so, the amount of testosterone present thanks to a couple of army troopers, the gangsters and some pushy flight attendants means that tension is still rife.

It is not too long before people start to disappear, and the revelations as to who or what is responsible are held back for quite a while without the film becoming strained or padded out. As the narrative progresses, several key plot strands emerge to keep things interesting, and thanks to some good characterisation you are never sure who will come out on top.

The strongest presences in the film are Hamill, who is both creepily ominous during the opening voiceover and impressively fragile later on when things start to go wrong with the flight, Alan Ford (“Snatch”) as the brooding, foul-mouthed, Cockney gangster whose every other word begins with the letter ‘F’, and Simon Phillips (“The Rise and Fall of a White Collar Hooligan”) as an average ‘Joe’ who tries to be brave and do the right thing despite the presence of much more macho alpha-males.

Director Dominic Burns (“How to Stop Being a Loser”, “Jack Falls”) opts for hand-held camera work and lots of close-up shots. Thankfully, the former is quite smooth rather than jolting, and the close-ups help to sustain the suspense as you are never sure what might be creeping up behind the characters, and the action feels more claustrophobic.

The audio side of the movie is crucial to its success. The soundtrack by Matthew Williams is initially OTT in its efforts to establish a foreboding atmosphere, but you soon warm to it and get taken along for the ride. The sound mixing is brilliantly done, and the various effects attributed to the terrifying storm, the roaring engines and other plane-related creaks and bangs really convince us that the action is taking place onboard a craft at 30,000 feet and not on a film set.

A trailer is all you get as an extra, but it’s a very well-produced trailer!

“Airborne" (2012) is out now, courtesy of Chelsea Films. The film has a running time of 78 minutes approx, carries a ‘15’ certificate and retails for £12.99, or less from

Last modified on Monday, 23 July 2012 10:39

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