Plot: Ernest (Richard Attenborough) has just boarded a flight, but he never intends to disembark, at least not in the usual sense. He has crafted an explosive device and now that he is on board the plane, Ernest plans to detonate the bomb and take out himself and the other passengers. This has not been a last minute plot either, but one long in the planning stages and Ernest is consumed with vengeance, as one of the passengers has impacted his life in a profound fashion. Ernest’s daughter was killed in a hut and run incident and after his life was shattered, he has struggled to move on and wants only to avenge his child’s death. His faith in the justice system and society as a whole have been shaken when the man walked free from his crime, which is what leads him to these tragic circumstances. But will Ernest enact his vengeance or will his plan be revealed and thwarted before the bomb explodes?
Entertainment Value: I liked this one a lot, as Jet Storm is a tense, always escalating thriller that throws a wide scope of colorful characters into a boiling pot, then lets us watch as the pressure grows. The core narrative is simple enough at first glace, with a man out to correct an injustice, but the movie soon unspools numerous threads that complicate the situation. While Ernest’s mission remains at the film’s center, soon almost all the passengers have their own stories at work and as tension mounts, it causes a lot of those stories to boil over. This all feels natural as well, as putting a lot of people into a confined space in times of stress is certain to lead to drama and panic, which is just what happens in Jet Storm. The stories are well performed and executed, while also packed with melodrama and dysfunction within the exchanges. The actions and conflicts between the various passengers are a lot of fun to watch, provided you appreciate high drama and colorful characters. I was impressed by how sharp the writing here is, while also indulging in that melodrama, not to mention the remarkable ensemble of talent present to bring it all to life. I have to give Jet Storm a strong recommendation, as it is so well made and thoroughly entertains.
As I mentioned above, the movie boasts an impressive lineup of talent and without question, that is one of the main reasons the film works so well. This kind of melodrama can spiral into ham fisted or ridiculous directions in the wrong hands, but this cast is able to find just the right balance. The panic and ever present tension provide space to dial up the drama of course, but this never feels like camp and the performers find that line more often than not. Richard Attenborough has the closest to a central role, but in truth, most of the characters are given a good deal of screen time, so this is truly an ensemble piece. Attenborough is terrific of course, getting across the frustration, anger, and desperation, in one of the movie’s more complex roles. I especially like how well he plays off his costars and in this kind of material, that is crucial since there is so much cross interaction. The cast also includes Stanley Baker, Barbara Kelly, Diane Cilento, and Hermoine Baddeley.