We’ve all seen action films like this before. Films like Speed, Under Siege or Die Hard have used similar stories. The race against time, terrorists and some threw in a mode of transportation (battleship, bus, etc) for good measure. The only time you feel that this is a little dated is that you can tell that this one was made pre-9/11 as most films today will stay away from the Arab as terrorist theme.
Terrorists have hijacked an airplane flying from Athens to Washington D.C. with over 400 passengers and crew aboard. Dr. David Grant (Kurt Russell – Overboard, Tombstone) is a terrorist expert and he believes that there are nerve gas bombs aboard the plane that have the capabilities of destroying all of Washington D.C. That means they cannot let the plane enter the air space over the east coast of the United States. Shooting the plane down is not an option as it would cause a high number of American casualties and result in a scandal.
The U.S. government has decided to send a highly trained squad up to the plane led by Lieutenant Colonel Travis (Steven Seagal – Above the Law, Under Siege). The plan is to board the plane and wrest control of it away from the terrorists and disarm the bombs. A complex mid-air boarding is planned out. Something goes wrong during the boarding and Travis is killed, so the team decides to take Dr. Grant with them. They don’t have much time to stop El Sayed Jaffa (Andreas Katsulas – The Fugitive, Hot Shots! Part Deux) in his evil plan.
The film works because it introduced Halle Berry (Catwoman, X-Men 3: The Last Stand) to us and Kurt Russell makes a very likeable hero. A solid cast is rounded out by Joe Morton (Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Speed), Oliver Platt (2012, X-Men: First Class) and John Leguizamo (Ice Age, Moulin Rouge). Film editor turned director Stuart Baird (U.S. Marshals, Star Trek: Nemesis) realizes what type of film he is making and as a result focuses on the action. Maybe the first 15 minutes is devoted to story development and then the following 2 hours is pure action/tension. There is never a lull or a dull moment. The only weakness is that it is definitely a film that can only be watched once, however, as once you know what is going to happen all the tension is taken out of it and renders it like a deflated balloon.