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Sunday, 7 January 2018

Retro Review: Turbulence (1997)

Cast: Ray Liotta, Lauren Holly, Catherine Hicks, Hector Elizondo, Rachel Ticotin
Genre: Disaster Crime Thriller
U.S Box Office Gross: over $11.5 million 

Plot: After a shootout on a flight transporting prisoners, a stewardess must outwit a smooth-talking criminal and land the plane herself

'Hold Onto Your Seat Belts For This Okay B-Movie Actioner'

It's fair for me to say Turbulence is probably as throwaway as a B-movie, straight-to-DVD action cheapie one would expect in this big-budget, lower- tier action fest that is another Die Hard-like clone. Having said that, it was still entertaining and thanks to Ray Liotta, especially, his performance helps redeem this film and prevents it from being utterly mediocre and forgettable. 

Set during Christmas, Turbulence starts off with a tale of two different halves of Ray Liotta's and Lauren Holly's characters, then things take off when we get on board on the plane. The serial killer in Ryan Weaver manages to wrangle free on a 747 plane, hijacks it and all hell breaks loose. Most of the crew are killed off, but for the one plucky flight attendant, of whom becomes the unlikely hero of the film, who has to outwit and stop him and land the plane as well. The first 24 mins start off slow and normal, as one expects in these types of movies, and then after that, the action and carnage begin with the bad guys gaining advantage first. 

Lauren Holly won a Razzie award for worst female performance for this film and seeing her here and before that in Dumb & Dumber, 3 years earlier, it's weird. Holly as Teri even wears a white vest, just like John McClane in Die Hard. Honestly, though it would have been better had Rachel Ticotin snagged the lead; I mean, she was terrific in Total Recall alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger and so making her as the supporting cast member in this film, was a bad move on the casting director's part. Ticotin would have made for a better kick-ass flight attendant, who means business than Holly and still, Ticotin's character was effective. Liotta chews up the scenery as well as one would expect him to do in another one of those typecast villain roles he has long been associated for and for once, excluding his Goodfellas part, it doesn't get old and he is always so good at it, as his antagonist turns are so realistic, it's frighteningly real. He can overplay or underplay it, and here, he is a real meanie and a loon. His character doesn't start off as being a completely crazed wacko, but as the film goes on, it unravels and he manages to turn the screw several times, as Weaver kills people off. He makes a lot of difference in Turbulence in being a watchable thriller to an unwatchable one, without him in it. & I can admit and say this film was watchable after a not so memorable start. 

One thing that surprised me is how the plane doesn't have many passengers on board (just 12 people?); for a plot that is predominately set on a plane, it was something that baffled me a little. Perhaps this airline is one of those cheapo types or not very good. 

Turbulence is another in the long line of the so-bad-its-good type of movies and one that makes for an okay Die Hard. It got trashed a lot, it apparently cost $55-78 million to make - yet only recouped $11 million, making it a total flop & it feels every bit a B-movie. But as I was watching this, I see to it that it definitely has a watchability factor to it, even if Liotta's evil laughter can be a little grating and the tension, that is elevated by the music, helps a good deal. This film, contrary to the scathing reviews and low scores, especially the low IMDb rating, is actually, and personally speaking, far from terrible as it been originally lauded. But also it could have done with a better actress than Lauren Holly, who by picturing and seeing her here, is a bit of a miscast & I understand the complaints from those who found it difficult and those who may find it difficult empathising with her and her plight. Mainly because of her casting as the lead, it didn't work for me. 

Though it is overblown and silly, it is a film you have to suspend your disbelief and logic for, just like you would do with the Die Hard movies, and just cheer on the good guy triumphing against the odds and defeating the baddie. 

Final Verdict

Despite the trash-like, B-movie quality Turbulence gives off, this is a decent flick and as it wears on, it gets better somewhat. I would swap Lauren Holly for Rachel Tincotin and reverse their roles and as I feel she would have been the better fit to play the action heroine, Teri opposite Liotta's deranged maniac antagonist, Ryan. But at least unlike the other female Die Hard clones, Skyscraper with Anna Nicole Smith and No Contest with Shannon Tweed, the action scenes are better here in this movie.

Contrary to the bad reception it received, though Turbulence is a bit of a bumpy ride, the landing is not too shabby either. 


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