DVD Review: Airborne / Cert: 15 / Director: Dominic Burns / Screenplay: Paul Chronnell / Starring: Mark Hamill, Julian Glover, Gemma Atkinson, Simon Phillips, Alan Ford / Release Date: July 30th 2012
To paraphrase Kevin Smith’s Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back, look everybody, it’s Mark Hamill! This appears to be the biggest selling point for a movie that couldn’t be any more British if it tried. The old Jedi seems to have let himself go a bit and ‘stars’ as a senior air traffic controller who is on his final shift before his retirement.
Working at the East Midlands Airport, his final night includes a nasty storm that is predicted to be on its way over the Atlantic, causing all flights to be cancelled. All planes that is, except for Atlantic Sky Airways flight 686, which is bound for New York with a skeleton crew and passenger load of about ten. Oh, and there’s an expensive antique vase in the cargo hold that one of the passengers is accompanying to the States.
When one of the passengers goes inexplicably missing, the others start to panic and they begin to vanish one by one. Of course, being on a plane in the sky, they can’t have gone far, but they have definitely vanished and not into the toilet to clear out the in-flight meal! As the vehicle is searched, it becomes clear that someone is to blame – possibly terrorists - as the bodies are discovered, including some of the crew. The plane begins to disappear off of the radar and the controllers lose contact with it. The twist as to why it’s all happening is almost understandable, but there is a further twist involving the supernatural that just doesn’t sit right.
With a cast that includes the guy that played Bricktop in Snatch, the guy who used to be in The Bill but now appears in lawyer commercials and Gemma Atkinson off of Hollyoaks, you really couldn’t have a more British production. With its setting, the film should feel claustrophobic, but it doesn’t due to the lack of passengers and the supernatural twist is weak – or at least the vessel involved is. There are some red herrings that could have been expanded upon but are never fully followed through on, and there is a real lack of tension, apart from shouting and mini-fights breaking out.
Hamill is basically tied to a room, shouting down a microphone and looking at radar screens. Airbourne has an interesting premise but doesn’t utilise the situation or setting to its full extent. This is missed opportunity to make a clever, nasty little film, which is a real shame.