`Turbulence': Foul Flight for Viewers

By Arnold, Gary | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), January 10, 1997 | Go to article overview

`Turbulence': Foul Flight for Viewers


Arnold, Gary, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


"Turbulence," cleverly timed to exploit foul weather and perilous travel conditions, sustains a diverting, if systematically preposterous and sadistic, game of cat-and-mouse inside a Boeing 747 bound from New York to Los Angeles on a dark and stormy Christmas Eve. The short passenger list includes two homicidal monsters escorted by a quartet of overmatched federal marshals.

Given those odds, the crew members and scattered customers are destined to be reduced to a remnant, allowing an enclosed but elongated and relatively roomy field of combat for the surviving antagonists.

Lauren Holly represents virtue at bay as a valiant flight attendant named Teri Halloran. Ray Liotta is encouraged to taunt and molest her as the most dangerous psychopath, a would-be insinuating serial killer named Ryan Weaver - a handle almost as odd and intriguing as the one assigned to Hector Elizondo as his police nemesis, Aldo Hines, who has apprehended Weaver a couple of times and awaits the airborne duel anxiously at LAX.

Gun battles between the prisoners and marshals send stray bullets toward the flight deck, mortally wounding the pilot. The co-pilot suffers a convenient head injury while alone in the cockpit. This misfortune is aggravated by a visit from Weaver, who relishes the thought of a nihilistic flight toward oblivion, with LAX as his culminating crash site.

The slight prospects of a safe touchdown depend on Teri. Frightened but tenacious, she steals enough study time to master the necessary automatic controls, tutored over the radio by the calm, disembodied British voice of a pilot named Bowen, portrayed by Ben Cross - and this can be presumed to be the beginning of a beautiful friendship for Teri once they meet face to face.

One's admiration for Teri's courage might beggar description if it weren't for fond, nostalgic memories of a prototype air-disaster thriller titled "Julie" that starred Doris Day 40 years ago. I think the heroic nod still favors poor, distraught Julie, stalked by a homicidal spouse, Louis Jourdan, and obliged to land an airliner of pre-jet vintage without any professional training. …

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