Joseph Gordon-Levitt is back after a brief stint away from the acting limelight. He stars as commercial flight pilot Tobias, who is thrown into his biggest nightmare when the Paris bound flight he is cooperating, is overrun by a group of terrorists. Tobias’ mental strength is tested to its limits when the terrorists grow tired of his lack of collaboration. His job and duty is wavering with each challenging choice he is met with.
Upon first glance, it would appear as a bizarre decision for Gordon-Levitt to take on the lead role in such a small scale movie. But when you quickly realise that practically the whole script rests on his shoulders, it seems like a clever move for the actor.
This is director Patrick Vollrath’s first full-length feature. You can applaud what he was trying to do with what little he had to make it happen. It’s a claustrophobic, tension driven event, almost completely told in real-time. Aside from its use of security footage to set up what would become the events that will later play out in the movie, everything we witness occurs in the confines of the commercial plane. More specifically, the cockpit.
Whilst I don’t necessarily take issue with the idea, it’s more how they approached it which doesn’t sit right with me. Even from its opening footage, we discover it’s typical terrorism at play. A scenario that no longer deserves attention, and grew old many years ago. Had it been willing to take risks with its narrative and story progression, we may very well be looking at a more unique movie that has more to say, just outside of the general terrorism takeover schtick. But unfortunately it misses the mark in that area.
A (practically) solo led movie that gives Gordon-Levitt the ability to steal centre stage with no competition. Unfortunately, he’s not got a whole lot of positives to work with. Tobias becomes an increasingly unfavourable character. Certainly not based on his status within the movie, but the decisions he makes throughout the ordeal. It’s the type of movie that has you screaming ‘Why aren’t you doing this?’ ‘surely the smart thing to do here is …’. It’s through the aggravating script and even more frustrating character decision making that unintentionally raises the tension to a level that couldn’t be found elsewhere.
There’s an interesting dynamic introduced later into the movie, which creates a shift in the films plot, but this only opens up more holes in its narrative. It has already opted for the ‘Western civilisation is bad’ cliché and it never recovers from it. This Amazon Prime exclusive has the potential to take off with its stylistic choices and unique time constraints, but its general theme and inability to write a strong central character leaves this experience grounded on the runway.