Ryan Weaver is a newly recaught serial killer being flown back to Los Angeles for trial. During the flight, one of the other prisoners escapes, resulting in the deaths of both pilots. Now a flight attendant, Teri, is the only thing that stands in the way of the maniac crashing the plane. Can she stop the bad guy and land the plane before it’s too late? Find out in… Turbulence.
How?! Ryan Weaver is a serial killer (or is he? (He is… just look at him)) who is being flown back to LA for trial after being recaught. Taking advantage of a Christmas Eve flight that is nearly empty, the marshals load him onto the plane with another prisoner, making the flight crew nervous. Teri, one of the flight attendants, is at first intrigued by Weaver, who comes across as charming (but also super duper Ray Liotta creepy) and not at all what she expects a serial killer to be like (besides his general serial killer vibe). It becomes only more confusing when the other prisoner is able to escape and take everyone hostage, but is ultimately subdued and killed by Weaver (but also it’s not confusing because Ray Liotta is a madman and obviously is playing a serial killer). As this has all happened, both pilots have ended up dead, leaving Weaver in charge and Teri the only one trying to stop the plane from crashing. Unfortunately, they are heading straight for a megastorm (oh no!) and things are looking pretty dire. Realizing that Teri is trying to save the plane and ruin his plan of having it crash into some populated area (interesting plan), Weaver lures her out of the cockpit and tries to scare her into submission. But he didn’t count on her grit and smarts cause she uses Weaver’s obvious attraction to her against him and is able to knock him down for the count and retreat back to the cockpit. At this point they are through the storm (really not much of a role in the film) and Teri is able to get the autopilot set for landing. Just then, though, Weaver destroys the autopilot and sets the plane back on a crash course (oh no!). Teri is able to barely save the plane and turn it around and begs for one more shot at saving their lives before being shot down. But Weaver has other plans as he busts into the cockpit and they have a final climactic fight, ending with Teri shooting Weaver. Getting back to the cockpit, Teri reengages the emergency autopilot and brings the plane in safely. THE END.
Why?! Survival, for the most part. Alternatively, Weaver’s motivations are all over the place. He’s a serial killer on death row so he’s really not trying to survive. He more seems annoyed that the detective who caught him was able to get a conviction by planting evidence. And even then mostly because that’s a blow to his ego. He wants everyone to know that he was in fact too smart to be caught by ethical means and is then hoping to crash the plane so that he can go out with a bang and show everyone how smart he is and how the detective didn’t win. It’s nuts, but also kinda refreshing for the insane person in a film to truly act insane. I guess that’s the benefit of casting Ray Liotta. He nails acting insane.
Who?! There honestly isn’t much for this section, but the captain of the plane is played by J. Kenneth Campbell. That would not be notable in any way other than his face is now burned into my brain because he plays a character, Flint Lukash, in the film Operation Delta Force 2: Mayday and it is the greatest acting performance of all time. In fact, don’t watch Turbulence. Watch that film instead. He is a mad man.
What?! Being on an airplane there are a number of products thrown about. Some Minute Maid orange juice clutched in terror, a Heineken ordered in jest, a Ford attached to the wheel of the plane (naturally). The Ford is even commented on in the script. Quite the achievement for a product placement. I also did want to note that the airline in the film is a fake one called TCA (Trans Continental Airlines). That would be totally uninteresting except that the former manager of the Backstreet Boys, Lou Perlman, used that company name as the front for his Ponzi scheme. Now at the time that the film was being made the Ponzi scheme was active, but not yet uncovered, so just a really weird coincidence.
Where?! There is a whole cycle we could do for film set on different modes of transportation or in a location that is not specific to a place in the world. Here this is truly a “plane movie” and boy is it ever. It also technically takes place in New York at the beginning and LA at the end. It’s very solid and very important to the plot. A.
When?! Secret Holiday Film Alert! And this one is a doozy. This film takes place on a Christmas Eve flight. You might be like, oh that’s fun, they mention that it’s Christmas Eve. No they don’t just mention Christmas Eve. This film IS Christmas Eve. Liotta is caught while out buying a Christmas present for his next victim. The plane is so decked out with Christmas decorations that it legit seems like a hazard of some sort. It’s a Wonderful Life is playing on the plane in the background of multiple scenes. It’s an A… It’s just an A.
This film is pure schlock. Probably the funniest thing about it is that the script seems to be written from the perspective that the audience is not supposed to know whether Weaver did it or not. There are hints that he may have been framed, the flight attendants chatter about how he seems so charming, and he’s nice and polite up to the point of seemingly saving the plane from the other, clearly evil prisoner. One problem… they cast Ray Liotta, creepiest man alive, to play Weaver. You have to chuckle when Liotta, innocently chatting up the flight attendants, comes across not as a charming, possibly framed man, but as a Ray Liotta crazy maniac. It’s almost like he read the script, got bored, skipped to the end and was like “crazy and creepy as fuck, got it” and then played it that way for the entire film. It’s genuinely funny. Add on top one of the most insane not-so-secret holiday films of our generation and I think it’s a pretty solid BMT. It is more entertaining than it actually deserved to be despite botching pretty much every aspect of the film, but maybe that’s what a BMT film is all about. Patrick?
‘Ello everyone! If I made this film I would call it Frequent Flayer. Get it? He’s a serial killer on a plane. Should we just call it Serial Killer on a Plane? Let’s go!
P’s View on the Preview – I knew basically nothing about this film before watching it. I was returning from a trip and watched it before completing the preview. So I kind of knew it starred Liotta and that it was an airplane thriller. That’s it. I was in for a wild (turbulent? Nope that isn’t a phrase) ride. What were my expectations? I guess I kind of hoped it tracked along with Con Air? Like a knock off Con Air. It came out around the same time so that made sense to me.
The Good – Hooooooooooooo boy, if you like insane performances there is nothing better than Liotta in this guy. Also, there is a “twist” in the beginning where they do a very small and short-lived head fake to make the viewer think “hey, maybe Liotta is a good guy.” That head fake is hilarious and so obviously a fake that it kind of makes the whole first act work. Without it and you’re left waiting for Liotta to break free of his chains (and all time and space and logic) and start chewing the plane apart like a gremlin in The Twilight Zone.
The Bad – Basically the rest of the film. Liotta’s performance actually belongs here because it is ludicrous. It might be one of the craziest villain performances ever. No one has ever gone more over the top than this. They throw a bunch of subplots against the wall to add drama to the film, but none of them work because they hinge on everyone in the film making terribly dumb decisions. If the main character had merely decided it was more important to stay in the cockpit and lock Liotta in the main portion of the plane, then most of the rest of the film could have been avoided quite easily I think. The film is also basically plotless … a serial killer gets on a plane and is trying to crash it. That’s it. Finally, they assemble a whole rag tag group of passengers in the beginning of the film … and then lock them in a back room 30 minutes in, never to be seen again. Presumably it is because they realized they couldn’t have Liotta kill them all, but they also couldn’t figure out how they wouldn’t overpower him once they realized he intended on crashing the plane? The whole film is insane!
The BMT – I think I’m a bit higher on this one than Jamie, but that is fine. Maybe it is because I watched it while actually on a plane (which was interesting … didn’t really bother me). It definitely gets me jazzed to develop an odd-setting-as-a-character cycle which breaks the mold of the normal state/country settings we are used to. Did it meet my expectations? I suppose since I didn’t have many expectations it had to. I should have been prepared for Liotta, but somehow I wasn’t. And he exceeded my expectations. It was like In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale all over again!
Roast-radamus – I’m going to throw out a minor Product Placement (What?) for Ford, which gave us the car that nearly takes out heroic plane down. Is this a Setting as a Character (Where?) for a plane in general? I think so. The plane is kind of a character. And boy does Ray Liotta go to town on our boy. It is definitely an excellent Secret Holiday Film (When?) because you know you can’t have a Die Hard Scenario unless it is set during Christmas. I also have to mention the kind of interesting Worst Twist (How?) as they initially seem to play up a “Liotta is innocent” like in The Fugitive, but then it becomes abundantly clear he is a psycho. I think it is a real twist despite the fact that they ignore it in the trailers for the film. And I think this has a decent shot at BMT as well solely due to Liotta’s b-b-b-b-b-bonkers performance.
StreetCreditReport.com – Surprisingly no cred really. You would think this of all things would get more play as it contrasts with Con Air and Air Force One around the same time. WatchMojo, which I think is run by IMDb, gave it honorable mentions for both best hijacking films, and best airplane crashes … boooooooo. I genuinely think this could be in the top 5 worst airplane films, and it might be one of the craziest serial killer performances by Liotta. So take that mainstream media, you missed out on this one.
You Just Got Schooled – So there are two straight-to-video sequels to this film, but I obviously wouldn’t watch either of those so … psych! I watched the second one, Turbulence 2: Fear of Flying. In this installment a class of people with a fear of flying, upon graduation, take a flight from Seattle to Los Angeles to celebrate. Little do they know there is a deadly toxin on board and a terrorist itching to use it! The film stars Tom Berenger most notably as the ground control operator trying to help bring the plane back to Seattle safely. The film is not that bad from a tv movie perspective. Usually tv movies are just boring and sad. This threw every hijacked plane twist at the wall and hoped something would stick, which was actually pretty entertaining. Combine that with a lead actor with stage combat training (who clearly insisted on using it), and a mysterious carton of milk Berenger drank throughout the film, and you have a winner in my book. I did not watch the third one though, Turbulence 3: Heavy Metal. But I didn’t need to as I had already seen it reviewed on Red Letter Media and had very little interest in experiencing the film for myself: